The Corporate Travel Community brings you a roundup of the most thought-provoking and interesting comments from those industry leaders in the know.
IAG former CEO: Aviation not returning ‘back to the way it was’
IAG former CEO Willie Walsh said the aviation industry is not going to return “back to the way it was” as there is “so much repair that’s going to have to be done”. Mr Walsh said “Most airlines are restructuring in a very positive way” with the ability to “respond to crises going forward”, however “You are not going to get back to the same level of growth for some considerable time”. Mr Walsh added “Unfortunately, there will be failures… When the weak airlines disappear, that’s a cheap and a good form of consolidation”.
FCTG ‘Trying to work out what travel demand will look like going forward’: MD Australia
Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG) MD Australia James Kavanagh said coronavirus recovery is “not going to be nearly the relatively fast recovery as we’d all hoped back in July when borders began to open”. Mr Kavanagh said the company is “trying to work out what travel demand will look like going forward”, however “We’re definitely looking at four to five years at least until we really come out of this”.
Cologne Airport CEO: 2019 traffic levels may only return in 2026 due to lower business travel
Cologne/Bonn Airport CEO Johann Vanneste reported the airport will likely only see 2019 passenger traffic levels return by 2026. He explained that this is partly due to lower business travel and the rise of video meetings and conferences as a result of COVID-19, which normally makes up around 30% of the airport’s traffic share.
Air New Zealand CEO: It is ‘hard to believe’ in trans Tasman resumption before Mar-2021
Air New Zealand CEO Greg Foran said he does not expect trans Tasman services to resume in 2020, and it is “hard to believe it would be before March next year, and could well be longer”.
Garuda decides against bankruptcy filing, has ‘good prospects for recovery’: President director
Garuda Indonesia president director Irfan Setiaputra, commenting on whether the carrier would consider filing for bankruptcy, stated: “We discussed the risks, the benefits, the pluses and minuses and the company’s leadership decided against it”. Mr Setiaputra said the carrier is expecting an IDR8.5 trillion (USD578.1 million) bridging loan from Indonesia’s government to come through in 2020, adding the carrier has “good prospects for recovery”.
Air France-KLM CEO: M&A ‘absolutely not a priority’ in Covid-19 context
Air France-KLM CEO Benjamin Smith commented on M&A in the context of Covid-19. He said bankruptcies in the industry have “already started” and they will “accelerate in the coming months”. Mr Smith concluded: “When you have the vast majority of your aircraft grounded, the issue of consolidation is absolutely not a priority”.
Saint John Airport CEO: ‘We need sector specific support’
Saint John Airport CEO Derrick Stanford stated “there are few passengers, which means little revenue and since we operate essential infrastructure and cannot close, the only tool in our toolbox is to curb operating costs”. Mr Stanford stated: “Our communities need air service and connectivity for business to thrive, and we need the federal government’s support to get through this period”. He said: “We need sector specific support”, adding: “The financial damage the Atlantic Airports have already sustained will take years to recover from”.
TUI Group CEO: Travel environment ‘remains volatile and likely to remain so’ in the medium term
TUI Group CEO Friedrich Joussen said the company has “successfully restarted” activities with 1.4 million travellers handled across its travel businesses since the restart of operations. He added that destination availability “at present is highly influenced by government policy and development of the pandemic” and that the “environment remains volatile”. He concluded that it is “likely to remain so for the next few quarters”.
Vistara ‘observing a steady return of demand’: CEO
Vistara CEO Leslie Thng reported the airline expects to increase the number of frequencies it operates per day from 80 at present to 100 by the end of Sep-2020. Mr Thng said: “While on some routes the traffic is still one-directional, we are largely observing a steady return of demand, especially to major metro cities”, since scheduled domestic services were permitted to resume in India on 25-May-2020.
Rex deputy chairman: ‘Governments should not be lifting their border closures prematurely’
Regional Express (Rex) deputy chairman John Sharp said: “Border closures have really done an enormous amount of harm” to tourism and aviation, however “Governments should not be lifting their border closures prematurely because the consequence of that could be that we have another wave of this pandemic, and another wave of this pandemic would do the tourism industry and the airline industry even more harm”.
India’s Civil Aviation Minister: ‘India has one of the better safety records in the world’
India’s Minister of State for Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri stated India has “one of the better safety records/indicators in the world” despite a “motivated narrative” on the country’s aviation safety record. Mr Puri added scheduled aircraft accidents in India in 2019 was 0.82 per million flights, compared to the global average of 3.02.
Belfast International Airport MD: Duty free changes ‘another nail in our coffin’
Belfast International Airport managing director Graham Keddie said planned changes to duty free allowances between Great Britain and the EU will decrease the airport’s attractiveness to airlines and “damage Northern Ireland’s connectivity”. New UK Government regulations scheduled from Jan-2021 will “significantly” increase duty free allowances from non EU countries and extend them to the EU, but will not include Northern Ireland. Mr Keddie emphasised the importance of duty free sales for airlines and said “at a time when the aviation industry is in dire straits… this seems crazy to put another nail in our coffin”.