Your weekly travel and aviation Quote-a

18 January, 2018

The Blue Swan Daily brings you a roundup of the most thought-provoking and interesting comments from those industry leaders in the know.

Air Deccan CEO and founder G R Gopinath on the Indian Cabinet permitting foreign airlines to acquire up to a 49% stake in Air India:

"Just as the government decided to allow Maruti Suzuki to run the operations without any interference, it should do the same with Air India as well if it wants to attract foreign airlines to pick up stake in the airline". Mr Gopinath said it was a positive step but wanted the government to slowly withdraw from the state owned airline. "Air India should be allowed to be listed at the stock exchanges and have a large public holding. But it should not allow any individual business house to hold a major stake," he said. He expects the total valuation of Air India to be around USD10 billion, without land assets, of which around USD5 billion would contribute to federal funding. "If the Centre acts with prudence and transparency and goes for a transparent tender process, it can actually get a far better valuation," he added.

London Stansted Airport CEO Ken O'Toole on the airport's GBP500 million transformation programme:

"As we are now serving more passengers than at any time in the airport's history, it's imperative that we plan how we can keep pace with demand and invest in developing quality, good value facilities to ensure we do all we can to enhance the passenger experience". Mr O'Toole added: "The next big thing will be low-cost long-haul".

Deutsche Lufthansa AG chairman and CEO Carsten Spohr on Alitalia and Lufthansa's interest:

"While recognising the valuable measures that have been undertaken to date... we strongly believe that there remains a considerable amount of work to be achieved before Lufthansa would be in the position to enter comprehensively into the next phase of the process. We therefore strongly recommend and indeed encourage the commissioners to start implementing key restructuring measures which would be common and beneficial to all prospective bidders".

London Heathrow Airport CEO John Holland-Kaye on the airport's performance in 2017:

"Heathrow had its best year ever in 2017 helping to strengthen the British economy as the country seeks to redefine its role in the world. Our colleagues welcomed 78 million passengers and supported the delivery of record volumes of British trade to markets around the world. We're looking forward to continuing to deliver for Britain in 2018 as we progress our expansion plans".

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian on the airline’s outlook for 2018:

"Looking ahead to 2018, we expect to drive solid earnings growth by growing our top line 4 to 6 percent, improving our cost trajectory and integrating our international partner network. As a result, we are able to increase our previous full-year guidance to USD6.35 to USD6.70 per share due to additional benefits from tax reform".

IAG CEO Willie Walsh on Heathrow Airport's expansion costs and "inefficiencies":

"For Heathrow's expansion to succeed, there needs to be a relentless focus on controlling costs. But I have no confidence that the CAA [UK Civil Aviation Authority] is up to the task... By not regulating Heathrow firmly enough, the CAA is failing to protect the consumer". Commenting on the airport's landing fees, Mr Walsh added: "There is no benchmarking, no transparency and very little recourse".

Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Tewolde GebreMariam on the airline’s plans to commence service to Chicago or Houston in Jun-2018:

"We are still comparing Houston and Chicago they are almost comparable in terms of giving us connectivity to the rest of North America". The carrier also intends to commence Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Geneva, Jakarta, Kisangani, Mauritius and Toamasina services. Regarding Australia, the only continent the airline does not currently serve, Mr GebreMariam said: "Give us few years and we will reach there".

Shannon Group CEO Matthew Thomas on Norwegian's plans to expand its Boston (Providence) and New York (Stewart International Airport) services to Shannon in 2018:

"This expansion further strengthens our long haul connectivity and Shannon's position as a key transatlantic gateway. We will now have our largest number of US services in over 17 years, which is fantastic for the wider region and for transatlantic aviation generally. It also shows that the new model for low cost transatlantic flying is proving popular and complements our existing range of transatlantic carriers".