Your weekly travel and aviation Quote-a

30 September, 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.

Finnair CEO: Asian market still 'very important' despite airspace closures

Finnair CEO Topi Manner stated the carrier's "geographical advantage is gone" due to the Russian airspace closure, however maintains the Asian market "will still be very important for Finnair". Mr Manner said "once China opens up" the carrier will "have good chances to fly profitably to Shanghai and Beijing", despite Russian airspace closures. He added: "the number of Asian destinations will decrease more than their share of the revenue", noting that as yields are rising Asia can still provide up to 30% of its revenue, from initially between 20% to 25% following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Auckland Airport CEO: 'The appeal for visiting New Zealand is still there'

Auckland International Airport CEO Carrie Hurihanganui stated: "The appeal for visiting New Zealand is still there and the shape of the [tourism] recovery will be interesting", with the airport expected to reach 80% of pre-coronavirus traffic levels by mid 2023. Ms Hurihanganui said: "There is a concern over the hospitality offering because of the availability of labour. We have to make sure tourist operators are open and visitors can dine out".

American Airlines CEO: Business travel pessimists are ‘wrong, wrong, wrong’

American Airlines CEO Robert Isom stated claims that business travel will not return post-pandemic are "wrong, wrong, wrong". US Travel Association forecasts a strong business travel comeback in 2H2022/1H2023.

Fiji Airways CEO reports 'record of all records' month

Fiji Airways CEO Andre Viljoen reported the carrier has recorded "very good months in every way" with "very good" bookings, adding: "Our record of all records was August, where we bank $140 million". Mr Viljoen commented on forward bookings through to Mar-2023 and Apr-2023, noting: "People have bought in advance" and adding: "We're very happy for the ramp up so far".

Virgin Atlantic CEO: Return to Gatwick 'not in our plans for 2023'

Virgin Atlantic Airways CEO Shai Weiss said the airline has no plans to return to London Gatwick Airport in 2023. Mr Weiss commended Gatwick for its handling during the recent period of demand driven operational disruptions, but clarified: "For us, concentrating our efforts at Heathrow has paid back for our customers and also in being more efficient in terms of connectivity. The problem at Gatwick is connectivity. Never say never, but it's not in our plans for 2023 for Virgin Atlantic to fly out of Gatwick".

WTTC CEO: Travel and tourism industry seeing 'green shoots' of recovery

World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) president and CEO Julia Simpson stated the travel and tourism industry is seeing "green shoots" of recovery, adding: "The world, with some exceptions, is travelling again". Ms Simpson said: "However, the recovery could be hampered by economic headwinds. Rising energy prices, cost of living, labour shortages, airspace restrictions, and, of course, climate change, all threaten the full of recovery of our sector".

WestJet CEO: Removal of border restrictions will 'further expedite the recovery for our industry'

WestJet CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech stated Canada's removal of travel restrictions will "further expedite the recovery for our industry and the Canadian economy". Mr von Hoensbroech added the easing of restrictions "aligns with the travel policies of other major nations, reflects [the aviation industry's] outstanding commitment to safety, and recognises that air travel is no less than safe than any other consumer activity". The Canadian Government announced travellers will no longer be required to submit health documentation through ArriveCAN, provide proof of vaccination, or undergo COVID testing from 01-Oct-2022.

Luxair CEO: We need to find ways to continue flying economically

Luxair CEO Giles Feith stated the carrier "should have invested in new aircraft and infrastructure prior to the pandemic". Mr Feith said that following the pandemic, Luxair has "lost a lot of investment capacity" and noted further difficulties due to the energy crisis. Despite this, Mr Feith said the carrier has "not passed on the extra costs to customers" but underlined a "need to find ways to continue flying economically".

Ryanair CEO: We are 'not currently seeing an impact' on bookings due to GBP value decline

Ryanair CEO Eddie Wilson said the LCC is "not currently seeing an impact" on bookings stemming from increasing domestic mortgage rates in the UK, recently announced unfunded tax cuts by the UK Government and the decrease in GBP value. Mr Wilson also said that if there are issues with demand, the carrier has the option to "grow and locate aircraft in places that have the best cost base and where demand reflects putting in that capacity", adding: "It's not that we welcome a recession, but certainly we are the last to feel it".

American and JetBlue preventing Spirit Airlines from operating at JFK: SVP

Spirit Airlines SVP network planning John Kirby, testifying in the US Department of Justice's lawsuit against American Airlines and JetBlue Airways' Northeast Alliance (NA), reaffirmed the carrier's opposition to the alliance. Mr Kirby stated JetBlue is now "a feeder airline for American Airlines, and will do what American wants it to do". Mr Kirby also noted the carriers, along with Delta Air Lines, control 84% of slots at New York John F Kennedy International Airport, preventing Spirit from securing sufficient slots to viably operate at the airport.

KLM CEO: Schiphol restrictions 'offer no perspective whatsoever'

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines issued a statement labelling Amsterdam Schiphol Airport's extension of daily departing passenger caps until the end of Mar-2023 as "unacceptable to KLM". The carrier stated the airport's service standards are "harming KLM's carefully developed reputation" and reported damages amounting to more than EUR100 million. KLM CEO Marjan Rintel said "the situation at Schiphol has demanded too much for too long from our customers and our colleagues", adding the "newly announced restrictions for the winter season offer no perspective whatsoever". The carrier restricted ticket sales due to the new winter 2022/2023 schedule measures, to minimise further cancellations and remain within the boundaries set to ensure operational safety at Schiphol.