Your weekly travel and aviation Quote-a

3 June, 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.

This week we feature some of the insights from the recent CAPA American Aviation & LCCs Summit that took place in Puerto Rico in late May-2022.

American Airlines head of ESG: 'From a climate change perspective, it really is all about jet fuel'

American Airlines MD and head of environmental, social and governance Jill Blickstein stated "SAF has tremendous potential. It's a drop in fuel, what a gift… But when are we actually going to be able to buy the SAF? That's where I think we're going to need lots of government support and government policy". Ms Blickstein added: "99% of our emissions come from jet fuel. From a climate change perspective, it really is all about jet fuel".

Current Aviation CEO: The one thing airlines must do for their brand is 'be on time'

Current Aviation CEO Brad Beakley stated: "I think the reality is that the airline environment is unique compared to online retailing because you've got that operational component in there and the one thing you have to do for your brand is be on time".

Viva CEO: 'We need to start seeing the pandemic in the rear view'

Viva CEO Felix Antelo said he is "convinced" the LCC is trending in the right direction and that the airline needs to "start seeing the pandemic in the rear view and start talking about what's coming up next". Mr Antelo said the carrier is facing issues such as infrastructure and high costs in its region, but that it sees "an opportunity in the region" over the next decade, which is the biggest available, along with Africa, adding: "The LCCs and the ULCCs are just getting started in the region".

Air Transat VP pricing: 'When increasing fares, you have to be cautious'

Air Transat VP network, revenue management and pricing Michèle Barre stated: "The problem today is the price of fuel and fuel management… I think it's difficult to transfer this cost to passengers". Ms Barre added: "When increasing fares, you have to be cautious".

'Aviation is a target for politicians to make a point': Azul chief revenue officer

Azul chief revenue officer Abhi Shah stated "unfortunately aviation is a target for politicians to make a point", which is one of the many challenges the carrier faces operating in the Brazilian market. Mr Shah also said the reason the airline continues to be optimistic because although it is an LCC, it is "not a low fare airline" and stimulates the market through growth in service, adding: "Latin American airlines are very high quality, we're some of the highest in the world in on time performance".

Spirit Airlines EVP and CCO: 'The fares we're seeing have some staying power, for now'

Spirit Airlines EVP and CCO Matt Klein stated "we're back to a normal booking curve, which would indicate that the fares we're seeing have some staying power, for now." Mr Klein added: "We did have a pilot attrition problem at the start of the year, so our recovery probably is a couple months behind… We want to make sure we're not overscheduling the airline".

Dohop CEO: 'It is a very different experience coming into the US' than many large hub airports

Dohop CEO David Gunnarsson stated "It is a very different experience coming into the US" compared to many large global connecting hubs, such as London Heathrow, which are more efficient "on the check-in side" and "the arrival side". Mr Gunnarson said the US international arrivals system is "very far off" what it could be, adding: "Check-in, security, boarding, arrivals - those are the friction points that we're going to have to work on removing to create [a] seamless experience".

JetBlue Airways SVP, government affairs: COVID-19 has 'fundamentally changed the travel market'

JetBlue Airways SVP, government affairs & associate general counsel Robert Land stated US carriers entered the COVID-19 pandemic "almost as financially healthy as they'd ever been", with the pandemic and the Federal Government's policy response resulting in a "wholesale transformation of the travel sector". Mr Land called on the Government to "do what it's saying and follow the science" with regards to COVID-19 testing requirements, stating that the industry and public are "now begging our government" to follow the travel restrictions policies of other countries. Mr Land added: "The traveller, with the fear and confusion of being stuck overseas [has begun to say] 'I'm not going'... It's really fundamentally changed the travel market".

IATA regional VP Americas: Industry readiness is sturdier as a result of COVID-19

IATA regional VP Americas Peter Cerda stated "one thing the industry is doing very well is [in] its readiness, it's much more sturdy and well structured. We're collaborating much better than we did before... I think the entire air transport sector is working toward recovery, which is great". Mr Cerda added: "And we've been successful in doing that. But again, a [key] component here is government. They're going to play a very important factor, particularly on the international stage, going forward in how we go about recovery".

Frontier Airlines CEO: Current demand is 'greatest revenue environment I’ve seen in three decades'

Frontier Airlines president and CEO Barry Biffle labelled current travel demand as "the greatest revenue environment I've seen in three decades". Mr Biffle added that domestic leisure travel is equal to or greater than 2019 pre-pandemic levels, adding that the LCC is also starting to see the business traveller return.

Sabre Airline Solutions VP and GM Latin America: Technology debt is leading to complexity

Sabre Airline Solutions VP and GM Latin America Ana Maria Escobar stated "The systems we have today have taken the travel market to where it is [but] I think that we have a technology debt, and that is leading to complexity... How can we create a modern platform which will be digitally seamless for the airlines?" Ms Escobar also stated that in order for airlines to "become better retailers", they need to become better at understanding who their customers are, adding: "Everything that we are doing can be performed only if we have the right technology".

Air mobility industry is about 'growing the aviation pie': Whisper Aero CEO

Whisper Aero CEO Mark Moore stated the urban air mobility and regional air mobility industry is "not trying to change how the pie is split up" as regards aviation revenues, but that it "really is about growing the aviation pie and bringing along people who currently are doing ridiculously long car drives and doing it much more efficiently and way faster through the air". Mr Moore added: "If you're going to pull from automobiles, you really have to decrease the friction of the aviation experience. Right now the hub and spoke system is designed for the convenience of these large transports and the inconvenience of the passengers".

Uber Air founder: The world now expects commercial eVTOL services by 2024

Uber Air founder Nikhil Goel stated: "I think now the world has converged and said we will have commercial flights for paying passengers in electric VTOL by 2024 in at least one or two cities".

ACI-NA EVP: Pipelines for staffing 'haven’t been developed and just weren’t there' during COVID-19

Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA) EVP Matt Cornelius stated "We have to go back and look at what COVID-19 measures worked and what didn't, as a country, globally and as an industry". Mr Cornelius also said airports have not escaped the "macroeconomic problem" of staffing, adding: "We do have a difficult work environment… COVID was an opportunity for some people to retire and the pipelines for people coming into our business haven't been developed and just weren't there".

ALTA CEO: Associations have to 'educate governments' on industry support for Latin America

ALTA executive director and CEO José Ricardo Botelho said the association constantly has to prove that airlines "are necessary for the region", despite being "essential" for regional development in Latin America. Mr Botelho added: "We have a job to do as associations - IATA, ALTA, ACI, whatever - to educate the governments, any governments, that this industry is essential for the entire Latin America region".

Puerto Rico has '20% more air access' than pre-pandemic: Tourism Company executive director

Puerto Rico Tourism Company executive director Carlos Mercado reported Puerto Rico currently has "20% more air access" than it did prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mr Mercado added: "Internationally we see that we have more potential to add frequency... We have been working with [stakeholders] in Colombia and Spain".