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.
PATA CEO: ‘Expectations for a return to the past should be shelved’
Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) CEO Liz Ortiguera stated “expectations for a return to the past should be shelved” and more attention needs to be paid to those source and destination markets best preparing to drive recovery within Asia Pacific. She noted the travel recovery is “being driven by a complex range of factors from the varying market policies regarding virus control and containment to local citizens’ sentiments on vaccine take-up”.
GOAA CEO: COVID-19 will have ‘similar’ impact to 9/11 on aviation industry
Greater Orlando Aviation Authority CEO Phil Brown said he believes the COVID-19 pandemic is “similar” to 9/11 in that it “will change the way aviation industry operates”. Mr Brown said the industry will be “much more conscious about health issues and the volume of air in the aircraft”, as well as the cleanliness of facilities.
Qantas Group CEO: There are ‘potentially a lot of destinations that we could be operating to’
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said there are hopes for travel bubbles to the Pacific Islands, Fiji and Vanuatu. Mr Joyce noted there are “potentially a lot of destinations that we could be operating to, we have the aircraft, we have the crew”, with hopes to “get people back to work as soon as possible”.
Lufthansa CEO reports two months of continued and accelerating growth in bookings
Lufthansa CEO Harry Hohmeister said the carrier’s bookings “have been growing steadily for eight weeks”, with the last week of May-2021 exhibiting the strongest growth. Mr Hohmeister added that bookings for Jul/Aug-2021 are exhibiting demand 10 to 11 times greater than they were in Apr-2021.
AirAsia Group confident of recovery due to pent up demand
AirAsia Group president (airlines) Bo Lingam stated the carrier remains confident of its ability to recover “quickly and strongly” due to pent up demand. Mr Lingam said: “We have observed strong indications, whenever there’s a relaxation in domestic travel restrictions, there is also a significant spike in spontaneous travel, resulting in an increase in forward bookings”. He added: “We remain committed to further developing a solid foundation for sustainable future growth as we look ahead to our path to recovery”.
LATAM CEO: LATAM Brasil ‘categorically’ not for sale
LATAM Airlines Group CEO Roberto Alvo said the company is “categorically” not considering selling LATAM Brasil. As previously reported by CAPA, Azul reportedly expressed interest in acquiring LATAM Brasil following the end of their codeshare agreement.
ICAO secretary general: Sector sees a tremendous opportunity to build back better and stronger
ICAO secretary general Dr Fang Liu, speaking at the World Economic Forum (WEF) ‘Shaping the Future of Mobility’ stewardship board meeting, said the aviation community “sees a tremendous opportunity to do things differently and build back better and stronger than ever before in our history” following the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr Liu emphasised the increasing number of net-zero commitments for aviation being made by private operators and global airline alliances, and remarked on how they were demonstrating leadership at a key moment in terms of global sustainability momentum.
Australia’s Chief Medical Officer: ‘at some stage, our international borders need to open’
Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly stated despite hotel quarantine being effective, “no system is 100 per cent secure”, adding, “at some stage, our international borders need to open”. Mr Kelly said border re-openings are “something to look forward to”, with vaccination for coronavirus being “essential”. Mr Kelly noted: “Widespread vaccination will give Australians more certainty we won’t have to impose snap lockdowns or close domestic borders”.
UNWTO: Restart of tourism will ‘need new ideas and the best talent’, supported by training
UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili said the restart of tourism will “need new ideas and the best talent”, and the organisation needs to “support innovators and entrepreneurs who can transform our sector”. According to the UNWTO, the digital transformation that the tourism sector is undergoing to increase its competitiveness and resilience also needs to be brought closer to the people who carry it out, and it is necessary and urgent to train them so that they can address these challenges.
Austrian Airlines CEO calls for international digital health solution to give aviation a ‘full boost’
Austrian Airlines CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech said it is important that the EU digital health certificate for COVID-19 vaccination/test certificates is followed by a “globally recognised solution in order to give aviation a full boost”. Given the rising global vaccination rate and falling infections numbers, the focus “lies increasingly on restoring global freedom of travel” said Mr von Hoensbroech.
Brisbane Airport head of planning: New terminal ‘will be close to both runways’
Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) head of planning Michael Jarvis said the airport’s new northern terminal “will be close to both runways and it can be integrated between domestic and international operations”. Mr Jarvis said the facility is what carriers, “particularly airlines based in Australia, really want because they can connect flights within Australia and then out internationally”, adding airlines are scheduled to continue utilising the existing international terminal for a 10 year period, commencing 2032.
IATA boss calls for governments and industry to ‘work together to rebuild global connectivity’
IATA director general Willie Walsh said governments and industry “must work together to rebuild global connectivity” while managing the associated risk. Mr Walsh said a first step is for governments to evaluate the threshold of risk of virus introduction that they can effectively manage. Then they need to identify with industry feasible strategies to enable an increase in international travel without exceeding those thresholds. He noted government policies are “naturally risk averse”, while the private sector “has great experience in managing risks every day to deliver its products and services”.
Virgin Australia CEO: WiFi ‘on the cards’, alternatives considered
Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka said “WiFi is on the cards” for the airline, however “the WiFi product that we had before, we didn’t think was serving our guests as well as it might”. Ms Hrdlicka said the carrier is “working our way through” an alternative, “and how important it is to our guests”.
Vistara CEO hopeful ‘demand for air travel will return progressively’ due to vaccination drives
Vistara CEO Leslie Thng reported the airline is operating approximately 25%-30% of its pre COVID-19 outbreak schedule at present, down from approximately 75% of its pre outbreak schedule in Mar-2021, due to the impact of the second wave of COVID-19 in India. Mr Thng said Vistara is “hopeful that the situation will stabilise and the demand for air travel will return progressively” as vaccination programmes are implemented throughout India.
ACT Chief Minister: ‘We have to have a bit of a punt’ on North America travel to open in 2H2022
Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Chief Minister Andrew Barr met with Air New Zealand, as well as New Zealand airports, noting a Canberra-Auckland service may provide a one stop service to the US. Mr Barr stated: “We have to have a bit of a punt on whether borders to North America open in the second half of 2022”.
DBL: Falling infections and vaccination progress giving some hope to European aviation sector
Federal Association of the German Aviation Industry (BDL) president Peter Gerber said dropping COVID-19 infection rates and progress with national vaccination campaigns gives “some hope” to the European aviation sector. According to Mr Gerber, BDL data shows that capacity plans for Aug-2021 to typical European holiday destinations such as Spain, Greece, Italy and Turkey are at 80% to 100% of summer 2019 levels. BDL projects that seat capacity for Germany as a whole over Jul-2021 and Aug-2021 will be around 60% of pre-pandemic levels.
Virgin Atlantic chief customer officer calls for governments to adopt solutions for ease of travel
Virgin Atlantic chief customer and operating officer Corneel Koster stated it is “essential in the coming month” solutions including digital health passes “are adopted by governments and accepted at borders, based on global common standards”. Mr Koster said: “It’s these frictionless journeys which we obsess over, ensuring that every last detail is carefully considered… We will keep innovating to offer our customers personalised, healthy, more sustainable journeys”.
Air New Zealand ‘trialling ways we can improve our food and beverage offering’
Air New Zealand general manager customer Leeanne Langridge stated the airline is “trialling ways we can improve our food and beverage offering”, both prior to departure and while the passenger is on board. Changes include signage on trolleys for the carrier’s food and beverage offering, as well as alternative snacks, and the carrier will be “co-designing our customer experience with our customers”. Ms Langridge said the carrier will be guided by “three basic principles”, try, test and explore, adding “It’s fitting as we start to build back our airline. This customer testing is one small example of making sure our revive phase is not just about returning to what we have always done. We want to be better”.
Public Affairs Minister: SAA will not expect federal assistance after appointment of equity partner
South Africa’s Public Affairs Minister Pravin Gordhan said South African Airways (SAA) “will not be expecting nor should it request” financial assistance from the federal government once its new equity partner is appointed. Mr Gordhan also said once the deal is finalised, the government’s only financial responsibility will be the remainder of its prior ZAR14 billion (USD1 billion) commitment “to clean up the airline and the historic costs of the airline”.