Your weekly travel and aviation Quote-a

18 March, 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. 

Auckland Airport CEO: 'We think it will take time for passenger flows to recover'

Auckland International Airport stated there are currently 13 airlines flying to 25 destinations from New Zealand, down from 29 airlines connecting to 43 international destinations pre pandemic. Overall, international traveller numbers at Auckland Airport have fallen more than 90% to 2900 daily from 30,000 daily before the outbreak of COVID-19. Auckland Airport CEO Carrie Hurihanganui stated: "While the reopening of New Zealand's border won't be a big bang and we think it will take time for passenger flows to recover, we are very optimistic about the future". Ms Hurihanganui said New Zealand's border easing announcement "provides the certainty international airlines have been telling us they are looking for, allowing them to plan their flight schedules in advance, start selling tickets and ramp up operations".

Virgin Atlantic CEO: No short term demand drop due to oil prices

Virgin Atlantic Airways CEO Shai Weiss said the carrier is seeing short term demand for leisure travel and business travel recovery, despite inflated oil prices as a result of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Mr Weiss said demand dipped immediately following Russia's commencement of military action but has since recovered, adding: "There is a very strong pricing environment right now, which makes sense given the pent up demand but also of course the high input prices of fuel".

GOL expecting pre pandemic corporate travel levels to return by Jul-2022

GOL CFO Richard Lark said the carrier expects "normal" corporate travel levels on its network to return by Jun-2022 or Jul-2022. Mr Lark stated business travel normally accounts for about 70% of GOL's passenger share, with levels for 4Q2021 at around 40%. He added that travel among blue chip sectors such as oil and gas, metals, mining and financial services remains below 2019 levels. CEO Paulo Kakinoff said corporate demand is accelerating, with traffic expected to reach up to 85% of pre-pandemic levels in 2Q2022.

TIA: 'Tourism was the first industry to be affected by the pandemic and will be the last to recover'

Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA) communications manager Ann-Marie Johnson stated "Tourism was the first industry to be affected by the pandemic and will be the last to recover", adding: "Tourism operators both large and small have made huge sacrifices but can now focus on rebuilding their businesses", following the announcement of easing New Zealand's borders. Ms Johnson added: "We hope today's announcement will give some Australian families time to book their holiday travel… looking further ahead, it will definitely be a huge boost for our ski season".

Heathrow CEO: Aviation recovery 'overshadowed' by war and COVID uncertainty

London Heathrow Airport CEO John Holland-Kaye stated the recovery of the aviation industry remains "overshadowed by war and COVID uncertainty". Mr Holland-Kaye added: "We need to ensure we are geared up to meet peak potential demand this summer and are relying on the [UK CAA] to make a fair financial settlement that incentivises investment to maintain passenger service and encourages airlines and Heathrow to work together to grow passenger numbers".

Delta not at 'point of nervousness' about rising oil prices: CEO

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian stated the carrier hasn't "seen any impact at all" in terms of reluctance to travel from US travellers coming to Europe. Mr Bastian added he's not at "a point of nervousness" about rising oil prices.

Zambia Airports MD: Improving intra-Africa connectivity is 'an uphill battle'

Zambia Airports Corporation (ZAC) acting MD Maggie Kaunda stated the effort to increase air connectivity in Africa is "an uphill battle", adding: "We have a lot of work to do". Ms Kaunda commented: "We have a huge market as Africa, but I don't think we have leveraged it enough". She added that she expects the African Continental Free Trade Area "will definitely improve intra-African trade and tourism".

Norse Atlantic Airways CEO: Carrier to enter market 'even more cautiously'

Norse Atlantic Airways CEO Bjørn Tore Larsen stated the carrier's "unique position" of having not yet commenced service puts it at an "advantage to quickly adapt to unforeseen events". Mr Larsen outlined its entry into the market will happen "even more cautiously" due to the conflict in the Ukraine resulting in increased oil prices and "potentially lower demand in 2022 for international travel". The start-up outlined closure of Russian airspace may drive more people to travel from Europe to the US, however could lead to further trans-Atlantic competition if airlines adjust their network correspondingly. The carrier recorded an operating loss of USD8 million in 2021, but expects to its first revenues to be recognised on its first flight, estimated for 2Q2021.

Solomon Airlines CEO reports 50% monthly income loss due to domestic coronavirus restrictions

Solomon Airlines CEO Brett Gebers said due to domestic coronavirus related travel restrictions introduced by the Solomon Islands Government, the carrier lost 50% of its monthly income. Mr Gebers said the carrier continues to operate through funding from both the Australian and Solomon Islands governments, noting "the Australian Government has made available SBD6 million (USD745,494) over the next few months to assist the airline in flying cargo, this includes the Australian supported medical supply runs to the provinces", with the carrier to balance charter service costs through the Australian financial support.

FlySafair chief marketing officer: Comair grounding is 'bad for the market'

FlySafair chief marketing officer Kirby Gordon commented on the grounding of Comair (South Africa), stating: "The truth is that it's bad for the market". Mr Gordon said: "South Africa needs healthy competition amongst airlines and customers need to know that they can rely on their carrier of choice. Unfortunately, situations like this one are not good for anyone in the long run".

Air Transat CEO: Westjet acquisition of Sunwing Airlines to 'significantly reduce competition'

Air Transat president and CEO Annick Guérard, via the carrier's 1Q2022 earnings call, stated WestJet's planned acquisition of Sunwing Airlines will "significantly reduce competition in the market, especially in key markets such as western Canada where concentration would be very high". Ms Guérard added the carrier is planning to strengthen its eastern Canada network where it maintains "a solid position".

IndiGo CEO seeking 'rationalisation of taxes' in response to increasing fuel costs

IndiGo CEO Ronojoy Dutta stated growth in crude oil prices to nearly USD140 per barrel has resulted in the price of aviation turbine fuel (ATF) in India increasing by more than 50% since Jan-2022. Mr Dutta noted ATF accounts for more than 45% of IndiGo's operational costs. Mr Dutta stated: "We have been in talks with the government to bring ATF under GST as it brings the benefit of input tax credit". He added: "A rationalisation of taxes will result in high growth for the sector, creating a multiplier effect throughout the economy".