CTC – Corporate Travel Community brings you a roundup of the most thought-provoking and interesting comments from those industry leaders in the know.
AirAsia Group ‘optimistic’ international operations will resume in 2H2021
AirAsia Group president Bo Lingam stated the group is “optimistic” that international operations will resume in 2H2021 due to the rollout of COVID vaccinations, adding it expects to see “improved stability”. Mr Lingam said: “Even if borders remain closed, we are well prepared to rely solely on domestic operations alone”. He added: “We remain focused and committed to further strengthen our domestic position at this juncture as we await developments in regards to international air travel”. Mr Lingam stated the group is “encouraged” by “strong pent up demand”.
Embraer sees ‘huge market potential’ in China: CEO
Embraer Commercial Aviation CEO Arjan Meijer said the manufacturer aims to expand its position in China as “we see a huge market potential there”, despite the rapid growth of China’s local aircraft manufacturing sector. Mr Meijer said Embraer’s E2 family aircraft, which sits between COMAC’s C919 and ARJ21 in size, are ideal for China’s ambitions of expanding to regional cities and surrounding Asian countries under the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative. Although COMAC sales have so far been limited to China, Mr Meijer believes “we will see Chinese products become available outside China in the future”.
Air Arabia anticipates steady regional demand in summer 2021: CEO
Air Arabia CEO Adel Ali said the LCC anticipates a “good summer” with regional and short haul recovery driven by pent up holiday demand. Mr Ali said it is unclear if the carrier will return to profitability in 2021, but added there are no plans to raise debt but discussions with the UAE Government about state aid are ongoing.
French Minister of Finance confirms talks with the EU on Air France aid nearing completion
France’s Minister of Finance Bruno Le Maire confirmed discussions between the French state and the European Commission concerning a recapitalisation for Air France are in their final stages and could be completed “in a matter of days”. Negotiation with the European Commission was “long and difficult” and has not been entirely resolved Mr Le Maire said, with concessions including competition remedies to “maintain fair competition between Air France and other companies”. The concessions will not involve route reductions or job cuts. In addition, approval from the carrier’s board is still needed.
IATA DG: Divestment of Air India ‘will equalise the competitive landscape’ in India
IATA DG and CEO Alexandre de Juniac stated the Indian Government’s plan to divest its stake in Air India, Air India Express and Air India SATS Airport Services PVT Limited “will equalise the competitive landscape in the country”. Mr de Juniac added: “It will improve the competitive condition in India because no one will be able to claim that they have special support from the government… I have heard many operators complain about the support received by the flag carrier”.
Air New Zealand: Domestic business travel has returned to 90% of pre COVID levels
Air New Zealand chief customer and sales officer Leanne Geraghty reported domestic business travel has returned to 90% of pre-COVID levels, surpassing the carrier’s forecast of returning to 70% by 2022. Ms Geraghty stated: “To recover to near normal levels this quickly really reinforces the strength of our domestic network”. She added the carrier has “planned a schedule that enables business travel through increased frequency and connectivity”. The carrier is also regularly reviewing opportunities to add capacity, including deploying larger A321 aircraft on strongly booked flights.
Ireland Deputy Prime Minister: Coronavirus mutation ‘does not just come through ports and airports’
Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said “getting down to low [coronavirus] figures like 10, 50 or even 100 per day is not a prospect in the way it was last year”, due to mutations in the virus. Mr Varadkar said the B117 coronavirus mutation “does not just come through ports and airports”, noting it “would, unfortunately, have come into the country inevitably”.
Auckland International Airport ‘ready to go’ for trans Tasman bubble: CEO
Auckland International Airport CEO Adrian Littlewood said the airport is “ready to go” for a trans-Tasman bubble, adding “we’ve been ready for some time”. Mr Littlewood said it has been a process of continual improvement, and “new issues have popped up” during trials.
Kenya Airways proposing plan to reduce costs and seek partnerships
Kenya Airways chairman Michael Joseph outlined a proposed business plan for the airline, which would involve significantly reducing operational costs. Mr Joseph said: “We have a proposition but it needs support from the government which may not necessarily be financial”. He added: “We need to look at partnerships that will help us grow and become a much bigger competitor against leading nationalised carriers such as Middle Eastern operators”.
New Zealand and Cook Islands aiming to launch travel bubble in May-2021
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reported the country expects to launch a two way travel bubble with the Cook Islands in May-2021. Ms Ardern stated: “There has been significant work with preparedness and we are currently working in earnest towards a May commencement”. She added: “The Director General of Health has also advised that beginning vaccination will add to the safe opening of quarantine free travel”.