Your weekly travel and aviation Quote-a

21 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.

Emirates president: US routes will remain suspended amid 'irresponsible' 5G rollout plans

Emirates president Tim Clark stated the carrier was not informed of potential operational concerns surrounding the planned 5G rollout at a number of US airports until 18-Jan-2022, and confirmed the suspension of nine routes will remain in place "until we [have] clarity". Sir Tim said the rollout is "utterly irresponsible", adding: "Somebody should have told them a long time ago that it would compromise the safety of operation of aircraft in metropolitan areas… I think that message got through at a very, very late stage".

Delta Air Lines CEO: Omicron variant likely to mark endemic shift of COVID-19

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian, via the airline's 4Q2021 earnings call, stated the COVID-19 Omicron variant "is likely to mark the shift in COVID-19 from being a pandemic to a manageable and ordinary seasonal virus". Mr Bastian added the shift should see an acceleration towards a normalised industry environment. The carrier's medical team reportedly expects US COVID-19 infections to peak "over the next few days", followed by a rapid decline, according to the CEO. He noted the prediction has been evident within the carrier's staff. Delta Air Lines forecasts losses for Jan-2022 and Feb-2022, with profits due to return by March with revenue increasing to 72%-76% of pre-pandemic levels, compared to 74% achieved in 4Q2021.

JetBlue Airways CEO: 5G network launch set to 'further stress our already fragile air system'

JetBlue Airways CEO Robin Hayes stated AT&T and Verizon's planned 5G C-Band network deployment would "further stress our already fragile air system". In the internal employee memo, Mr Hayes also said the airline "won't be able to avoid the impact" of the 5G rollout, which may result in "significant flight delays, cancellations, and diversions in low visibility flying".

Serko SVP Asia Pacific: 'the time in COVID' was a time to communicate with customers

Serko SVP Asia Pacific Murray Warner stated "the time in COVID" was a time to communicate with customers, "because they weren't travelling either, and they weren't so busy". Mr Warner said "probably more than ever, maybe in our history, since we were really, really little… we really got a good view into what's most important, what's most pain, what they love about business travel".

Connect Airlines CEO: Companies must 'step outside the box'

Connect Airlines CEO John Thomas said: "At the moment, this is the only mechanism that larger airlines have to show their commitment to lowering emissions". Mr Thomas said companies must "step outside the box... not only from an economic standpoint but from an environmental standpoint, it's worth the risk".

MAHB managing director: Travel programmes such as VTL 'will be the catalyst for air travel recovery"

Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) managing director Iskandar Mizal Mahmood stated travel programmes such as the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) programme between Malaysia and Singapore "will be the catalyst for air travel recovery". Mr Mahmood cited the programme's "sold-out flights" and the resumption of Umrah travel in Oct-2021 as key contributors to MAHB's performance improvement.

IndiGo CEO calls for 'rationalisation of taxes' for aviation in India

IndiGo CEO Ronojoy Dutta stated "civil aviation provides efficient infrastructure, critical for economic growth and employment in" India, "yet, aviation pays 21% of its revenues to the government in indirect taxes with very little input credit". Mr Dutta continued: "It is an unreasonable proposition to expect that the industry should earn a 21% margin just to pay taxes to the government", adding: "This unreasonable proposition is resulting in an industry that is chronically ill and is unable to live up to its true potential of boosting commerce and employment".

Wizz Air CEO: ‘a lot better year in front of us than the years behind’

Wizz Air CEO József Váradi considers the omicron COVID-19 variant could be the end of the COVID-19 crisis. Mr Váradi stated: "My personal expectation is that we have a lot better year in front of us than the years behind us".

Malta's Finance Minister: Air Malta must become a European network carrier

Malta's Finance Minister Clyde Caruana, via the government's official Facebook account, stated Air Malta "must become a European network carrier, rather than just the flag carrier of the Maltese islands". Mr Caruana reported the carrier registered negative operating results in all recent years except FY2018 and FY2019.