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.
Ryanair Group CEO expects corporate travel recovery by 2022
Ryanair Group CEO Michael O’Leary said: “Europe is going to be a sea of vaccines through April, May and June”, adding “There’s huge pent up demand. People are gagging to go away, get some sunshine”. Mr O’Leary said there “will be a very strong profit recovery” in the year to Mar-2023, as “we have much lower costs emerging out of the COVID crisis”. Mr O’Leary added there are expectations for corporate travel coronavirus recovery by 2022, noting “All of these predictions business travel is dead… they generally always prove to be wrong”.
CAPA: ‘Things will have to change’ for global airline sector
CAPA – Centre for Aviation chairman emeritus Peter Harbison, stated “growing debt burdens combined with low yield are going to force some sort of structural change” in the global airline industry, noting particularly the likelihood of increased government intervention to support key connecting routes. Mr Harbison also highlighted the shifting role of lessors in fleet ownership, the strength of LCCs amid ongoing demand shortages and increasing cargo operations as key influences on the future of the sector.
AAPA DG: Coronavirus control ‘the most essential condition’ for travel bubbles
Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) director general Subhas Menon said “the most essential condition” for additional travel bubbles from Australia is controlling the spread of coronavirus. Mr Menon added “vaccination is a safety net” and expects to see more travel bubbles between different regions, with “the only way to get through this quagmire” being countries bilaterally agreeing on requirements.
Spirit Airlines CEO: ‘We will be among the first US carriers to reach sustained profitability’
Spirit Airlines president and CEO Ted Christie stated the carrier was “very pleased” with how its domestic and international network performed in 1Q2021 as demand strengthened in the last few weeks of the quarter. Mr Christie said: “This strength, along with improvement in forward bookings, drove positive cash from operations for the full 1Q2021 even when excluding the payroll support programme funds received”. He added: “While acknowledging that the recovery is still in progress and may not be linear, we continue to believe we will be among the first US carriers to reach sustained profitability”.
Qantas Group CEO: There are ‘market opportunities’ for Singapore, Japan and Taiwan
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said: “There are clearly a lot of countries in the region, especially in the Asia-Pacific, that have had a tight control on COVID”, which provides the group “market opportunities for Singapore, like Japan, markets like Taiwan for us to potentially open up”. Mr Joyce said the company is “activity looking at the Pacific Islands because there are really good opportunities in places like Fiji and the Pacific Islands to open up”.
Qatar Airways CEO: ‘There is no future for the A380’
Qatar Airways confirmed the airline has taken impairment on five of its fleet of 10 A380 aircraft and, subject to the ongoing impacts of the coronavirus, may take impairment on the remaining five through to 2023/2034. He stated there is “no future” for the A380, noting significant operating and maintenance costs as well as fuel inefficiency. Mr Al Baker highlighted Qatar Airways’ ongoing investment in fuel efficient aircraft, adding: “It is the aim of Qatar Airways to keep on growing and be carbon neutral [and] that aeroplane doesn’t help us”.
IATA CEO: ‘Optimism in domestic markets’ but government imposed restrictions ‘dampen the strong underlying demand for international travel’
IATA director general Willie Walsh said he expects industry cash burn of USD81 billion in 2021, leading to a debt burden of USD651 billion. Mr Walsh stated “There is optimism in domestic markets where aviation’s hallmark resilience is demonstrated by rebounds in markets without internal travel restrictions. Government imposed travel restrictions, however, continue to dampen the strong underlying demand for international travel”.
Nigerian CAA CEO notes ‘paradigm shift’ towards smaller regional aircraft in Nigeria
Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) director general and CEO Musa Nuhu stated Nigerian airlines are increasingly opting for smaller regional aircraft. Mr Nuhu commented: “With the new trend I see people going for Embraer, CRJ, ATR 42. So there is a paradigm shift. People are beginning to realise you can’t use 737 for short flights”. He added: “The economics is forcing the change. It is a positive change in the industry”.
Virgin Atlantic CEO expects entire fleet to return to service ‘in October or November of this year’
Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss said he expects the carrier’s entire fleet and “as many people back into flying and operating our flights… in October or November of this year”. Mr Weiss the carrier is hopeful for an increase in premium leisure travel due to passengers’ personal savings, adding business class may not experience recovery from coronavirus until 2023.
Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister: ‘we will open up more travel bubbles’
Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said “we will open up more travel bubbles as the vaccine rolls out”. Mr McCormack said the government has had “preliminary talks with Singapore”, adding “maybe Japan, maybe South Korea, maybe some of the Pacific islands will be next. Who knows?”.
Wizz Air CEO notes uncertain outlook for capacity and demand
Wizz Air CEO Jozsef Varadi commented on plans to increase capacity to 70% to 80% of pre-pandemic levels, stating: “It might be possible to operate within these ranges, but we can’t guarantee it”. Mr Varadi added: “It’s not a matter of capacity planning but governments imposing restrictions”. He expressed confidence that demand will eventually recover, but stated: “Whether this will happen over the summer or the winter or next spring, we don’t know”.
South African Airways preparing to resume operations: Interim CEO
South African Airways interim CEO Thomas Kgokolo stated the airline is preparing to relaunch operations and will commence pilot retraining, a review of safety compliance and development of a marketing strategy. Mr Kgokolo said his role as interim CEO “is to ensure that the energy is back, the momentum is back and ensure we build a solid team”. He added: “We can’t continue the way we did in the past”.
easyJet CEO ‘would struggle to see that there would be many countries’ not in ‘green’ travel zone
easyJet CEO Johan Lundgren said he “would struggle to see that there would be many countries” which would not be in a ‘green’ travel zone, adding he “would also struggle to see why there should be restrictions” in green travel zones “whatsoever”. Mr Lundgren added coronavirus vaccinations should not be mandated, adding the vaccination is “a tool”.
Queensland Airports CEO: ‘Recovery is ramping up’ for Gold Coast Airport
Queensland Airports Limited CEO Chris Mills stated “Recovery is ramping up” for Gold Coast Airport, with “the tourism operators we support, and Qantas starting the first international service in the airport’s history has given us even more reasons to celebrate”. Qantas joined Jetstar and Air New Zealand in connecting the Gold Coast to Auckland from 19-Apr-2021.
AEF deputy director: This should mark the beginning of the end for fossil-fuelled aviation
Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) deputy director Cait Hewitt stated the UK Government is expected to become the first major economy to extend its legal ‘net zero’ emissions commitment to departing international services, adding “This should mark the beginning of the end for fossil-fuelled aviation”. Ms Hewitt stated UK’s Government “expected to consult next month on what measures it plans to introduce to put aviation onto a path of cutting emission”.