Your weekly travel and aviation Quote-a

26 November, 2021

At a time of crisis, it is important that we share our insights and experience, helping each other to contain and mitigate the impact of COVID-19. CTC – Corporate Travel Community each week brings you a roundup of the most thought-provoking and interesting comments from those industry leaders in the know.  

Virgin Atlantic CEO: 'It’s looking the best it has been for a very long time'

Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss stated: "It's looking the best it has been for a very long time", adding routes including New York and Miami are looking "exceptionally strong". Mr Weiss said: "There is not great visibility beyond three to six months, because people are booking close in and responding to market sentiment". He added: "I personally don't see the UK and US reverting to the shutting down of borders, because cases are no longer the determining factor," he said. "It's really about variants of concern that are new and dominant beyond the delta variant, and we haven't seen one. It's not the same playbook".

Webjet MD: 'ongoing vaccinations, boosters and anti-viral treatments' to stabilise COVID-19 impacts

Webjet MD John Guscic stated short term uncertainty remains, due to "pockets of new outbreaks" of coronavirus globally. Mr Guscic said: "We believe ongoing vaccinations, boosters and anti-viral treatments will stabilise the impact of Covid within the next 6-12 months". Mr Guscic noted based on Webjet's trajectory "of outperforming the market in our WebBeds and Webjet OTA businesses", the company believes it will achieve pre-coronavirus booking levels by "the second half of FY2023, Oct-2022 to Mar-2023".

'IAG will not be alone in reconsidering our airlines use of Heathrow': IAG CEO

IAG CEO Luis Gallego said if the London Heathrow Airport increase in landing fees "goes ahead, I know IAG will not be alone in reconsidering our airlines' use of Heathrow". Mr Gallego said an increase in charges "will not help. It will not attract demand - it will have the opposite effect".

ACI World: COVID-19 has imposed an additional obstacle to global capacity plans

ACI World director general Luis Felipe de Oliveira said the airport revenue losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have imposed an additional obstacle to the existing global airport capacity challenge, with future of air transport demand threatening to outstrip current and planned airport infrastructure. Mr de Olivera said that where it is "excess demand for airport capacity and expansion is difficult", then airport charges "should play a critical role in signalling which airline operations would make the best use of the scarce capacity". He argued that airport charges "should signal the scarcity and whether the market is willing to pay for capacity expansion" and where there is "willingness", scarcity-based charges can be used to prefund capacity expansion. Where airport capacity is underutilised, there is a "role for airport charges to provide incentives for new services to increase regional connectivity and hence maximise the economic and social benefits of air transport".

Brussels Airlines new brand identity a 'logical step' after years of changes

Brussels Airlines CEO Peter Gerber stated the airline wants to "clearly mark the start of the new Brussels Airlines", with the new brand identity seen as a logical step following years of changes. He said the new brand identity aims to re-emphasise the airline's "identity as Belgium's home carrier". Following the second phase of its 'Reboot Plus plan', the airline's planned renewal includes the upgrade of new cabin interiors, digitised processes and a fleet renewal through its ordered A320neos.

Ryanair Group CEO highlights low carbon offsetting figures, 1% of travellers select to offset

Ryanair Group CEO Michael O'Leary said 1% of its travellers select to offset their carbon footprint, highlighting a compulsory, industry wide, replacement offsetting scheme could be implemented. Mr O'Leary added: "People want low fare air travel, and people want somebody else to pay the environmental taxation".

Kenya Airways CEO: Opportunity to 'rethink and then reset' was 'silver lining' to COVID-19 crisis

Kenya Airways Group MD and CEO Allan Kilavuka, via the airline's official YouTube account, stated the "silver lining" to the COVID-19 crisis is that "it gave us an opportunity to sit back, rethink and then reset". Mr Kilavuka added: "In doing that, then we came up with ideas that would remodel how we serve our customers, how we think about the business and make it more sustainable". Mr Kilavuka highlighted the launch of Kenya Airways' Fahari Innovation Hub and the work to repurpose its Boeing 787 aircraft for cargo operations.

Austrian Airlines CEO states train connections must improve if replacing short haul flights

Austrian Airlines CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech stated Greenpeace's statement that train travel could replace 80% of short haul services to and from Austria overlooked the fact that short haul flights comprised up to 95% transfer passengers. He added train connections must improve for passengers to consider them as a replacement for short haul flights, citing the discontinuation of its Linz-Vienna service in 2017 as an example, where only 50% of passengers have now switched to train transport, while the remainder fly to Vienna via Frankfurt or travel by car.

Lilium vice chairman: Commercial airlines unlikely to 'lock themselves in' with one eVTOL developer

Lilium vice chairman Alexander Asseily stated large commercial airlines are unlikely to "lock themselves in needlessly" with one electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) developer. Mr Asseily commented that the order finalisations will be determined by certification programmes, eVTOL performance and the ability of manufacturers to supply aircraft.

Jet2 chairman forecasts return to 'normal operations and customer volumes' in summer 2022

Jet2 plc executive chairman Philip Meeson announced the carrier's summer 2022 seat capacity is approximately 13% above summer 2019 levels. Summer 2022 booking load factors are also above summer 2019 levels and Mr Meeson noted: "package holiday bookings are displaying a materially higher mix of the total". Mr Meeson stated that due to the increases, "we remain optimistic that in Summer 22 we will experience a return to previously normal operations and customer volumes".

TAAG Angola Airlines requires major restructuring and workforce reduction, says CEO

TAAG Angola Airlines CEO Rui Carreira reported the carrier requires a major restructuring and workforce reduction to operate efficiently. Mr Carreira said TAAG is "doing everything that is necessary to restructure the company", including "talking with everybody: investors, airlines" in its efforts to privatise part, if not all, of the company. He estimated 1000 staff must be laid off as a result. He added the airline's operation costs must be paid in hard currency, which presents a challenge.

Airlines UK CEO issues concern for London Heathrow Airport charges

Airlines UK CEO Tim Alderslade, commenting on proposed increases to London Heathrow Airport charges, stated "at a time when the travel industry needs holidaymakers to return to the skies, the UK's biggest airport is… trying to price them out, penalising them for not travelling during the pandemic". Mr Alderslade said aviation is vital to the UK's economic recovery, noting the increases will "drive business and jobs elsewhere in Europe".

Coronavirus 'had immediate financial and operational impacts' on PASO: Chairperson and GM

Pacific Aviation Safety Office (PASO) chairperson Magele Hoe Viali and GM Andrew Valentine stated "For PASO, the pandemic had immediate financial and operational impacts", with a sudden decrease in aeronautical activity having "immediate impact on PASO's revenue and operational service delivery". The coronavirus pandemic provided the company with "the opportunity to reimagine and rethink how to operate", adding "A core focus for PASO in the later part of 2020 was on developing a framework for conducting compliance activities remotely instead of via traditional 'in-country' means while travel was not possible".

South African Airways interim CEO reports increased passenger load factors on regional routes

South African Airways interim CEO Thomas Kgokolo stated passenger levels on the carrier's domestic and regional routes from Johannesburg have increased since resuming flights in Sep-2021. Mr Kgokolo said regional route performance has been "amazing", with SAA's Accra service operated with an A330 achieving a 75% load factor. He noted the airline's Johannesburg-Cape Town service also achieved an average passenger load factor of 75%. Additionally, Mr Kgokolo reported SAA's first Mauritius service had a passenger load factor of above 90%. He said that SAA's Johannesburg-Maputo service, due to be suspended on 01-Dec-2021, has been a "challenge".