Your weekly travel and aviation Quote-a

14 January, 2022

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.

AirAsia Group CEO: 'I do believe that we’re at the beginning of the end'

AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes, commenting on the COVID-19 pandemic, stated: "I do believe that we're at the beginning of the end". Mr Fernandes added: "The good thing is, this time last year, we had no planes flying. Now, we've got a large chunk of our fleet flying domestic Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia".

IATA director general: Governments over-reacted to the emergence of Omicron variant

IATA director general Willie Walsh said governments "over-reacted to the emergence of the Omicron variant" at the end of Nov-2021, and "resorted to the tried-and-failed methods of border closures, excessive testing of travellers, and quarantine to slow the spread". Global air travel demand (PRKs) in Nov-2021 was down 47% compared to Nov-2019, an improvement of compared to the 48.9% decline in Oct-2021. Domestic RPKs fell 24.9% versus 2019 compared with a 21.3% decline in Oct-2021.

ITA not a 'Red Cross' for former Alitalia employees; seeks partner 'ready to put money on the table'

Italia Trasporto Aereo (ITA Airways) president Alfredo Altavila stated the airline is seeking a partner ready "to put money on the table", adding it is "looking for an equity partnership". Mr Altavila underlined the carrier is seeking a partnership that will create an opportunity for its growth, and capitalise on the potential of its Rome and Milan hubs. He said the airline is not a 'Red Cross' for Alitalia employees, underling the airline is focused on remaining in the market.

Flight Centre Travel Group MD/CEO expects competition to increase 'quickly'

Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG) MD and CEO Graham Turner said carriers "will certainly try" to retrieve losses caused by coronavirus, adding "If you look at the way airline fares had been over the last 50 years, it's generally been very competitive… so I don't think they'll have much choice". Mr Turner said the company has been in talks with "quite a few of the airlines", noting "they think that… it'll become quite competitive quite quickly".

Royal Jordanian’s 'Fly High' corporate travel programme to offer ‘innovative solutions and enhanced digital services’

Royal Jordanian launched its 'Fly High' corporate travel programme, in line with its five year turnaround plan, which aims, among others, to become the preferred airline in the Levant by offering bespoke products and delivering a consistent customer experience. The programme targets different corporate sizes, including large, medium and small sized enterprises, corporate travel agents, non profit organisations and family businesses, both in Jordan and abroad. Royal Jordanian chief commercial officer Karime Makhlouf stated: "We are now working on launching innovative solutions and enhanced digital services… With this programme, the companies and their corporate travel agents will receive a substantial cost-friendly and budget saving service for high-volume travel, without any commitment".

Airbus CCO: 2021 was a 'year of transition towards recovery'

Airbus chief commercial officer (CCO) and head of Airbus Group International Christian Scherer, via the company's official Twitter account, stated 2021 was a "year of transition towards recovery", with the OEM committing to continue working with airline partners on "connecting and uniting the world" and sustainability.

Hong Kong Chief Executive warns of rising prices and product shortages due to reduced cargo capacity

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor stated Hong Kong citizens will see the impact of reduced cargo capacity following tightened quarantine requirements on aircrew, including rising prices and product shortages. Ms Lam reiterated the government is investigating Cathay Pacific over an outbreak of the Omircon variant when two aircrew broke home quarantine rules, as well as the carrier's arrangement of carrying crew returning to Hong Kong on cargo only flights to avoid hotel quarantine, although the airline believes that the arrangement complies with the law.

Ethiopian Airlines CEO calls for 'global formula' to facilitate air travel

Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Tewolde GebreMariam commented on the "uncoordinated" responses of governments to the COVID-19 pandemic, stating a "global formula" is required to facilitate air travel. Mr GebreMariam said: "Unfortunately, various countries are responding in a different, fragmented, uncoordinated way. The reactions of various governments have become a bottleneck or hindrance for the slow recovery we're seeing".

Edinburgh Airport CEO: COVID-19 restrictions legislating industry out of business

Edinburgh Airport CEO Gordon Dewar told the Scottish Affairs Committee that COVID-19 restrictions are "legislating the aviation industry out of business". Mr Dewar said restrictions made Scotland a "deeply unattractive" place to visit for study or tourism, adding "we are very, very far away from normal levels of demand and confidence about the future".

Uganda Airlines goes 'back to the drawing board' to launch new schedule from Apr-2022: CEO

Uganda Airlines acting CEO Jenifer Bamuturaki stated the airline has "gone back to the drawing board" in identifying future destinations and the carrier will release a new schedule in Apr-2022. Ms Bamuturaki said: "Even for those [destinations] that were planned for earlier, we are going back into feasibility studies because the market landscape and the traffic flows have changed". The carrier is considering connections to cities such as Abuja, Accra, Goma, Kisangani, Lagos and Lubumbashi, with the aim to connect passengers via Entebbe to Dubai and London. The airline is also seeking aircraft to serve South and West Africa. "We will definitely need an aircraft that will do a range to destinations like Lagos, Johannesburg and Accra without limiting baggage or [passenger] numbers," said Ms Bamuturaki. The carrier's fleet currently comprises four CRJ900s and two A330-800s, according to the CAPA Fleet Database.