The Corporate Travel Community brings you a roundup of the most thought-provoking and interesting comments from those industry leaders in the know.
Etihad Airways CEO: Covid-19 will ‘almost certainly’ produce ‘some’ impact on business travel
Etihad Airways CEO Tony Douglas, via the company’s official Spotify account, stated he believes more people and employers will “feel more comfortable with people working from home” post Covid-19, though not “quite the profound shift that some spectators suggest”. He expects there will also be “sizeable changes” as regards real estate, as companies realise the potential to “downsize” their real estate footprint and avoid paying a premium. Mr Douglas continued by acknowledging that business travel for meetings, such as a three day trip for a three hour meeting, will be impacted by companies’ ability to use technology such as Teams and Zoom. He observed there is “nothing better than doing the deal [business] in a very interpersonal way where there’s a social aspect”, but noted there will “almost certainly” be “some impact on the way in which business travel used to operate”.
AirAsia Group CEO: Business travel will come back
AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes stated: “I think business travel is going to be affected for a while… People are beginning to question whether there is a need for it with Zoom and all of these things, but it will come back”. Mr Fernandes added: “A vaccine will come, treatments will come and tests will be quicker. So travel will come back; we are too globalised a world for it not to”.
New Zealand Prime Minister: ‘Our priority is to make progress but also keep New Zealanders safe’
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Australia is “looking at a hot-spot regime” for select state travel with New Zealand, amended from a whole country approach. Ms Ardern said the approach “will take a little bit of work to see how that would be deployed”, as “Our priority is to make progress but also keep New Zealanders safe”.
easyJet CEO: Government support ‘risk distorting the market’
easyJet CEO Johan Lundgren said: “The different types of support that governments have been giving out to airlines in in Europe, in the sums of billions, risk distorting the market”, noting it is “not acceptable” for government funding which is “so unevenly distributed”. Mr Lundgren said the carrier was one of the “world’s financially strongest airlines”.
JetBlue Airways CEO: Extension of PSP is a ‘bridge to somewhere’
JetBlue Airways CEO Robin Hayes said he believes an extension of the Payroll Support Program (PSP) is a “bridge to somewhere”, as he expects the industry “will significantly recover” as it enters 2021. “We don’t need a full recovery in 2021 for the industry to stand on its own two feet, we just need to get back to something closer to normal, and we can take it from there”, he explained.
Ireland Prime Minister: ‘public health personnel are not convinced yet about testing at airports’
Ireland’s Prime Minister Micheál Martin said coronavirus “I think is going to continue for some time” and believes “we have to look to the middle of next year to see if any respite is on the way in the form of a vaccine or better therapeutics”. Mr Martin said the “public health personnel are not convinced yet about testing at airports” and “Caution is still the order of the day”.
Aegean Airlines making ‘significant effort’ to restart activities: CEO
Aegean Airlines CEO Dimitris Gerogiannis said the airline has made “significant effort” to restart activities, operating to 84 destinations from Athens and 52 from its regional bases as of Jun-2020. He added that several markets outside and within the EU remain inaccessible, while demand for travel from accessible countries was “weak”, despite Greece’s strong relative attractiveness and performance.
Etihad Airways receives ‘remarkable support’ from major shareholder: CEO
Etihad Airways CEO Tony Douglas said the carrier has received “remarkable support” from its major shareholder, and is now looking to focus on “how we navigate coming out of the other side”. He observed that “not only have many airlines gone into administrative processes already, many of them will not come out of the other end without some support or another”, adding he is “sure Etihad will be one of the winners in all of this”.
Air New Zealand chief digital officer: Five year roadmap is ‘about a big bet on digital’
Air New Zealand chief digital officer Jennifer Sepull said the airline’s five year roadmap entitled ‘survive revive and thrive’ is “about a big bet on digital and making sure that we’re showing up in a way that is optimised, and that we’re connecting with our customers in really meaningful ways”. Ms Sepull said the carrier is removing its “tech debt, and we’re ready for a more competitive marketplace as we go forward” and reviewing all processes and systems.
Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister: Domestic border restrictions ‘not good enough’
Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said “people want to travel” and that “planes in the air, means jobs on the ground”. Mr McCromack said it is “not good enough that we’ve got tight border restrictions that are preventing many people from travelling where they want to be around this great nation” and “we want people to travel interstate”.
London Heathrow Airport CEO: Lack of airport coronavirus testing ‘holding back’ UK economy recovery
London Heathrow Airport CEO John Holland-Kaye said “we need to do better” than implementing a 14 day lockdown on incoming travellers from high risk areas “if we are going to rebuild our economy”. Mr Holland Kaye said coronavirus testing at airports is “something for number 10 to really get a grip on and give us the green light” and said without it, “this is holding back the recovery of the UK economy” as well as placing “thousands” of jobs at risk.
WestJet ‘anxious’ for return of 737 MAX, expects airspace will open in 4Q2020: COO
WestJet EVP and COO Jeff Martin said the carrier is “anxious” to return the Boeing 737 MAX to service. It is anticipated that airspace will open to the aircraft type in 4Q2020, however Mr Martin explained it will “take us some time to bring the fleet up”.
IATA: ‘hundreds of thousands of airline jobs will disappear’ without more relief and border openings
IATA president and CEO Alexandre de Juniac warned that without the introduction of additional government relief measures for airlines and a reopening of international borders “hundreds of thousands of airline jobs will disappear”.
Canada will work to ‘support regional routes for airlines’ and extend CEWS into summer 2021
Canada’s Governor General Julie Payette, in a speech to open the 43rd Parliament, stated the Canadian Government will “work with partners to support regional routes for airlines”. The Government will also “launch a campaign to create over one million jobs”, through means such as “direct investments in the social sector and infrastructure” and extension of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) into summer 2021.
Ryanair CEO: Without consumer confidence, Christmas ‘would be a write off as well’
Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary called for “effective test and tracing”, noted “we have got to allow” consumers to book with confidence for Christmas 2020, “otherwise that would be a write off as well”.
Cebu Pacific expecting COVID recovery to take ‘longer than expected’
Cebu Pacific VP for marketing and customer service Candic Iyog reported the carrier anticipates COVID recovery “to take longer than expected”, adding: “However, we continue being hopeful as we see there is still an inherent and latent demand for travel”.
Transavia France CEO: Back-to-school travel season ‘a lot less dynamic’
Transavia France CEO Nathalie Stubler said the back-to-school season has been “a lot less dynamic” in 2020 due to a “new level of uncertainty”. She said the LCC will operate at around 40% of 2019 capacity levels in Sep-2020, adding: “Afterwards, it is extremely difficult to know what is going to happen”. Ms Stublier also noted that a trend in last-minute bookings due to adjustments in travel restrictions “requires an enormous amount of agility to adapt to this very short term uncertainty”.