Your weekly travel and aviation Quote-a

24 February, 2023

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.

Cathay Pacific 'fully supports' initiatives to strengthen Hong Kong's international hub status

Cathay Pacific Group CEO Ronald Lam stated the group "fully supports" the Hong Kong SAR Government's initiatives to uphold and strengthen Hong Kong's international aviation hub status. Mr Lam added the carrier is "actively rebuilding" Cathay Pacific for Hong Kong, the Greater Bay Area and mainland China, and is "focused on reconnecting, by growing our flight capacity and network of destinations as soon as feasible". Mr Lam also said the potential of the Greater Bay Area is "extremely promising" and the airline welcomes efforts to cooperate with counterpart cities.

Auckland Airport CEO: Reopening of China an 'important milestone' in recovery

Auckland International Airport CEO Carrie Hurihanganui stated "More recently, we've seen an easing of travel restrictions in mainland China - an important milestone in New Zealand's aviation and tourism recovery". Ms Hurihanganui said as New Zealand has been named as "one of 20 countries open to Chinese travel agencies and online tour operators as a destination for Chinese tour groups", with the airport expecting its first Chinese travellers to be from the visiting friends and relatives market, "quickly followed by business travellers resuming important face-to-face meetings". Ms Hurihanganui added: "As we head into the autumn and winter, we expect to see a further lift in traveller numbers as Chinese leisure travellers have their passports reissued and obtain visas to visit New Zealand, resulting in a corresponding lift in flight frequency", with an expectation for Chinese students to return in greater numbers.

Air New Zealand CEO: 'Our recovery is well underway'

Air New Zealand CEO Greg Foran stated "Our recovery is well underway and operating performance is improving steadily, but like most airlines globally, we continue to experience challenges". Mr Foran said the carrier is "facing a high inflation environment with increased fuel, labour and other supplier costs", noting the costs flow into ticket prices. Mr Foran said a "key focus" for the airline is "bringing back much needed capacity to minimise the impact of higher prices on customers" as well as extending lease agreements on existing aircraft "and making tactical changes to the network to deliver an additional 2.7 million seats, or an extra 10,000 seats a day for the coming northern summer period".

Flight Centre Travel Group 'delivered a solid start' to FY2023: CEO

Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG) CEO Graham Turner stated the group "delivered a solid start to FY23 in an improved, but not fully recovered, trading environment". Mr Turner said sales momentum, which assisted driving the group's recovery in 2022, continued into H1FY2023, with both total transaction value and revenue tripling compared to the previous comparable period. Mr Turner also said "positive margin trends" have emerged, with revenue margin "gradually ticking upwards".

AirAsia X optimistic of upward fare trend in the near term: CEO

AirAsia X CEO Benyamin Ismail stated the company expects to relaunch more of its profitable destinations and "looks forward" to the return to China. Mr Ismail said AirAsia X is "optimistic" of an upward fare trend in the near term as demand for international air travel remains high. He added: "While we expect this to somewhat rationalise, we do not foresee the fare trend dropping beyond pre-pandemic levels". However, he stated sales for services to China "haven't been off the roof". Mr Ismail said: "A lot of people are still uncertain about the requirements of the Chinese coming back in to China, whether you need to be quarantined". He added: "Even though they say they are open, we don't know if you have COVID, you'd have to stay at a centre or not". 

Thai VietJet Air CEO: China will be primary market focus in 2023

Thai VietJet Air CEO Woranate Laprabang stated the carrier will be "humble" and manage its expansion within ASEAN, focusing on the Indochina region before looking to markets including Indonesia. Mr Laprabang said China will be the primary market of focus in 2023, with international services also planned within ASEAN, India and North Asia. He noted an obstacle is limited capacity, with the LCC currently operating 11 A320 family aircraft which will expand to 18, all sub-leased from VietJet Air. Mr Laprabang added the used aircraft market is currently very active with lease rates increasing by 20% to 25%.

Sydney Airport CEO: 'we are now seeing a steady stream of international travellers'

Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport CEO Geoff Culbert stated "It has been a challenging year for Sydney Airport since Australia reopened its border, but we are now seeing a steady stream of international travellers eager to explore the world again". Mr Culbert said that despite an increase of traffic, recovery has been "impacted by the lack of capacity on key overseas routes". Mr Culbert said following the reopening of China's border, "we anticipate the number of Chinese travellers to increase significantly throughout 2023, especially with more capacity returning to key routes", adding "Australia also needs a sustained recovery in aviation capacity to support the recovery of key export markets including high-value agriculture, business travel, and international students".

Qantas Group CEO: 'Being back in profit means we’re back to making long term investments'

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce stated the faster than expected recovery in travel demand meant the airline could accelerate investment in its lounge network. Mr Joyce added: "Being back in profit means we're back to making long term investments for our customers", noting that it "started with the major aircraft order we announced last year and now we're building on that with a major investment in our lounges". Mr Joyce added: "London is one of the most important destinations on our network and it's the perfect location for a First Lounge, especially with our direct Project Sunrise flights on the way".

Amsterdam Schiphol Airport CEO: '2022 will therefore go down as a bad chapter'

Amsterdam Schiphol Airport CEO Ruud Sondag stated "Never before in Schiphol's history have we disappointed so many travellers and airlines as in 2022". Mr Sondag said: "Our efforts and hard work did not lead to the necessary improvements in the system and, as a result, we were not able to provide the service we wanted" adding "2022 will therefore go down as a bad chapter in our own history books". In 2022, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol connected the Netherlands to 313 direct destinations, up from 296 on 2021. Of the 2022 destinations, 129 of which were intercontinental.

Air Astana CEO expects robust pax growth in 2023 amid continuing 'headwinds'

Air Astana CEO Peter Foster stated 2023 is expected to continue to deliver robust passenger growth, however "headwinds persist" in the form of continued airport and service provider resource and supply chain limitations, general inflationary pressure and technical reliability issues with PW100 engines.

Finavia CEO: 'Finland should provide financial support for the development of smooth trip chains'

Finavia CEO Kimmo Mäki stated "Finland should provide financial support for the development of smooth trip chains", adding: "The costs would be only a fraction of the costs of public PSO support paid to airlines and flying nearly empty aircraft". Mr Mäki said funding needed would be approximately EUR2 million to EUR3 million, noting it "would be a concrete measure that would help us reach the emission reduction targets for transport and ensure the long-term accessibility of Finland's regions".

Air Canada expecting solid demand environment in 2023: CEO

Air Canada president and CEO Michael Rousseau stated the carrier expects a solid demand environment in 2023. Mr Rousseau said: "In anticipation, we are building out our global network, continuing our narrowbody fleet renewal and investing in technology and customer service"