Your weekly travel and aviation Quote-a

25 February, 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. 

Air New Zealand CEO: 'We can see the path back to the Revive phase' of Survive, Revive, Thrive plan

Air New Zealand CEO Greg Foran stated limited travel, as well as domestic coronavirus related lockdowns in H1FY2022 largely impacted the airlines interim result. Mr Foran stated: "The airline has typically derived two-thirds of its revenue from its international passenger network and much of that was effectively grounded". Mr Foran said: "Looking at what is happening around the world and at home, we can see the path back to the Revive phase of our Survive, Revive, Thrive plan". Mr Foran noted the carrier is bringing back "approximately 250 cabin crew" and reactivated one Boeing 777-300 to do "some of the cargo heavy lifting".

Qantas Group CEO: 'We can start to look... at strategic decisions on fleet, network and growth'

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce stated the group is "on track to deliver more than AUD900 million [USD650.5 million] in annualised savings through restructuring by the end of FY22". Mr Joyce added: "Predictions in a pandemic are naturally fraught, so we always forecast according to the best information we have but with the agility that is needed", noting: "We can start to look further ahead at strategic decisions on fleet, network and growth opportunities".

Expedia Group: Travel industry and public become more resilient with each COVID-19 wave

Expedia Group vice chairman and CEO Peter Kern reported that while the company experienced "yet another significant travel disruption" from COVID-19 during 4Q2022, the impact was less severe and of shorter duration than previous waves. He added that the travel industry and travelling public "prove more resilient with each passing wave, and we continue to expect a solid overall recovery in 2022, barring a change in the trajectory of the virus".

Bonza CEO not ruling out operating from Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport in future

Bonza CEO Tim Jordan said Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport's slot rules and allocations are "an impediment for new entrants", adding the start-up carrier still intends to operate from the airport in the future "if we can get the right commercial terms".

Virgin Australia 'feeling really positive about the year ahead': CEO

Virgin Australia Group CEO Jayne Hrdlicka said the reopening of Australia's border to all overseas travellers was the injection of confidence the aviation industry needed after a difficult summer period. Ms Hrdlicka added: "While there will continue to be some ups and downs throughout 2022, we are feeling really positive about the year ahead and will keep being flexible and adapting to the challenges that the pandemic presents us with".

Emirates 'in good shape' despite several 'headwinds': President

Emirates president Tim Clark stated the airline faces several "headwinds", including high fuel prices, the potential for conflict in Europe and the recent US travel advisory for the UAE. However, Sir Tim said: "We are not experiencing large amounts of cancellations, either from the United States market... or from any other market". He added: "We're actually in good shape at the moment". Sir Tim said "the market is moving very rapidly" as COVID-19 travel restrictions start to diminish, stating: "I'm confident that it'll continue".

Southwest Airlines business VP: Focus on restoring business travel operations and frequencies

Southwest Airlines VP of Southwest business Dave Harvey stated the carrier is focused on restoring core business travel operations and frequencies. Mr Harvey added business passengers "are coming back, and they want that frequency", which he says will be possible once the carrier restores its staff base and enters new aircraft into service.

Eurowings CEO: The longer the restrictions, the greater the desire to travel

Eurowings CEO Jens Bischof stated the current increase in bookings follows the "ketchup bottle principle, first nothing for a long time, then everything at once". Mr Bischof highlighted "millions of people finally want to catch up on their holidays or meet important business contacts in person again", adding the longer the restrictions, the greater the desire to travel. The carrier reported vacation services during the Easter and summer holiday periods are in particularly high demand.

Gulf Air 'transitioning towards airline retailing' with launch of new travel booking product

Gulf Air launched a Gulf Air Holidays web product in partnership with the Bahrain Tourism and Exhibition Authority (BTEA), expanding long term strategic cooperation in the sector. Gulf Air acting CEO Waleed Al Alawi stated the launch is an initial milestone in "transitioning towards airline retailing" and establishing a stand alone platform for passengers to make flight and hotel bookings for Bahrain and GCC countries in one transaction.

IATA Americas VP: Airlines will 'take more risks' when exploring route opportunities post-COVID-19

IATA regional VP for the Americas Peter Cerda stated airlines will "take more risks" when finding route opportunities in the post-COVID-19 environment. Mr Cerda added long term relations between carriers and airports are unlikely to return soon, as airlines "are much more flexible than they were before" and use their resources "in a more effective manner". Mr Cerda believes airlines will pull routes if they are underperforming, and will only return them "when it can be profitable".

Ryanair CEO: Mask requirements on flights likely to remain until blanket easing of COVID-19 measures

Ryanair CEO Eddie Wilson said he expects mask requirements to remain on flights until European lawmakers collectively ease COVID-19 restrictions. Mr Wilson stated: "I think you're probably going to see [masks] continue this summer despite the relaxation that's probably going to come from the Irish Government in the coming days... We will want it to be gone, but everyone has got to jump at the same time".

Delta Air Lines CEO reaffirms need for national 'no-fly list' for disruptive passengers

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian reaffirmed his support for a national 'no-fly list' for historically disruptive passengers, stating: "A comprehensive list overseen by the federal government can close the loopholes and prevent [onboard] disrupters from flying". Mr Bastian added it is "critical" that airlines have all available tools to mitigate inflight misconduct as the world adjusts to a "new normal" post-COVID-19, with airlines seeing an influx of passengers. Mr Bastian originally proposed the no-fly list to the US Department of Justice on 04-Feb-2022 to "help prevent future incidents".

Air France-KLM wants flexibility to participate in consolidation 'where it makes sense': CEO

Air France-KLM CEO Ben Smith stated the carrier wants to "have flexibility to participate" in consolidation "where it makes sense", but outlined the group would not "lose sleep" if its competitors picked up independent carriers. As previously reported by CAPA, the group plans to raise up to EUR4 billion in capital to pay off state aid, which would remove the acquisition constraints placed on the carrier by the European Commission.

Allegheny Airport Authority CEO sees 'return of business traffic' at Pittsburgh Airport

Allegheny County Airport Authority CEO Christina Cassotis said recent air service patterns at Pittsburgh International Airport point to the "return of business traffic". American Airlines and Southwest Airlines recently resumed services from the airport to destinations including Austin, Mexico, New York and Raleigh-Durham, with Ms Cassotis stating these services indicate the return of passengers who are not seeking to travel to beach town destinations. Ms Cassotis added: "It's very clear that people want to get back into the air, that they want to be flying again despite everything that's been going on with the pandemic, weather and factors such as pilot shortages. We have seen traffic back at about 70% of pre-pandemic levels. It continues to climb, and we have seen seats come back at about 90% of pre-pandemic levels, again continuing to climb".

Airline Operators of Nigeria VP: Nigerian carriers lost USD48m to delays and cancellations in 2021

Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) VP and Air Peace chairman and CEO Allen Onyema reported Nigerian airlines lost over NGN20 billion (USD48.1 million) due to flight delays and cancellations throughout 2021 (Nigerian Tribune, 23-Feb-2022). Carriers also reportedly lost NGN24 billion (USD57.7 million) in revenue due to bird strikes. Mr Onyema stated AON is actively seeking "more effective ways to mitigate factors that cause flight delays and huge economic losses to the country".