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 DAC CEO: ‘Travel will become a badge of honour’
Ryanair DAC CEO Eddie Wilson said he believes “Travel will become a badge of honour”. Mr Wilson said travel “will go from a trickle of demand to a tsunami”, with the carrier “already seeing strong bookings for the rest of year and especially at Christmas”.
United expecting business travel to improve by end of 3Q2021
United Airlines executive VP and CCO Andrew Nocella, on the company’s 2Q2021 earnings call, stated business travel is currently down around 60% vs pre pandemic levels. Mr Nocella said: “We expect two more inflection points in business demand first at the end of the summer and second, the new budget cycle” beginning in Jan-2021. He added: “We expect business demand to improve by the end of [3Q2021], to be down about 40% to 45% vs 2019”.
Robert Crandall: LCC costs will come up as legacy carrier costs will come down
Robert Crandall, former chairman and CEO of American Airlines stated “This whole business of trying to get costs down to a competitive level has always been difficult and it will be increasingly difficult”. Mr Crandall predicted low cost carrier costs will come up as higher cost carriers “squeeze their cost down”. He said: “Therefore the difference won’t be as extreme as it has been in the past. And everyone will be looking for ways to distribute around that cost difference”. Mr Crandall added: “It promises to be an extraordinary, interesting time”.
TTF CEO: Without further support, there will be ‘no tourism and hospitality industry left’
Tourism & Transport Forum stated the Federal Government’s national disaster support payments, flagged for those in coronavirus lockdowns linked to a federally declared coronavirus hotspot, would help to lessen impacts for the tourism industry, adding there was still more work to be done to ensure its survival. TTF CEO Margy Osmond stated: “This long-called for support will help some businesses to keep their doors open, particularly among smaller operators, but any support will be required beyond the end of the lockdown and will need to address larger businesses with payrolls in the hundreds of thousands of dollars”. Ms Osmond added: “Without further support, there will quite simply be no tourism and hospitality industry left to begin the recovery post lockdown”.
US TSA exec: US airports are experiencing ‘historical recovery in passenger demand’
US TSA executive assistant administrator for security operations Darby LaJoye said 117 US airports exceeded 2019 pre-pandemic passenger traffic volumes for the week ending 18-Jul-2021, adding that the US is experiencing a “historical recovery in passenger demand”. The TSA screened around 2.1 million daily passengers during the week, a decline of 21% compared to the same pre-pandemic period in 2019.
Qatar Airways ready to place ‘large’ 777XF or A350F order by end of 3Q2021: CEO
Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker confirmed readiness to place a “large customer order” for Boeing 777X or A350 freighter aircraft by late 3Q2021, if the models are made available. As previously reported by CAPA, Mr Al Baker noted a potential A350F order would require “Airbus [resolving] our issues very quickly”, following the carrier’s grounding of several A350 aircraft due to a surface paint issue. In Jun-2021 Mr Al Baker stated Qatar Airways is “very keen” to be a launch customer for either freighter aircraft, as additional 777Fs are expected to be unavailable until 2023 and the carrier continues to prioritise cargo operations as central to its long term strategy.
Brisbane Airport CEO: ‘the highly competitive international aviation sector may well leave Australia behind’
Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) CEO Gert-Jan de Graaff stated (21-Jul-2021) “It is essential that all levels of government recognise that as other parts of the globe normalise, the highly competitive international aviation sector may well leave Australia behind”. Mr de Graaff called for policies to be implemented which will ensure Australia’s “connectivity to the world is protected”.
easyJet ‘successfully managed through the continued challenges’ of coronavirus in Q3FY2021: CEO
easyJet CEO Johan Lundgren stated during Q3FY2021, the carrier has “successfully managed through the continued challenges of the pandemic, using our operational responsiveness to capture demand while focusing on cost control and minimising cash burn”. Mr Lundgren said the carrier used existing strengths “like our network with renewed purpose”, with “the very way we have approached the challenges that we faced” allowed the carrier to adapt and build back stronger. Mr Lundgren said the carrier will emerge from the coronavirus pandemic with “longer-term wins along-side baked in sustainable cost reductions, responding effectively and in ways our competitors don’t or can’t”.
Thai AirAsia: ‘We hardly see a way out of this circumstance’
Asia Aviation Public Company Limited executive chairman Tassapon Bijleveld stated Thailand’s government “never responded” to demands for soft loans Thai AirAsia (TAA) requested “since the first lockdown last year”. Mr Bijleveld said: “The ban of domestic flights now has worsened the situation” adding: “We hardly see a way out from this circumstance”. He stated: “Even though TAA will not have to close down its business like other airlines, it’s very hard to steer past this crisis on our own”.
WTTC senior VP: ‘we are not out of the woods yet’
World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) senior vice president Virginia Messina, responding to the relaxing of restrictions across the UK, stated “Today we should reflect on how hard won our newly re-found ‘freedoms’ are”. Ms Messina added while the domestic market is benefitting from ‘Freedom Day’, “we are not out of the woods yet”. Ms Messina added: “International travel remains either off limits or frustratingly difficult for many”, with “the door to significant overseas travel still remains effectively closed”.
Melbourne Airport CEO: ‘Vaccination is our only path out of this situation’
Melbourne Tullamarine Airport CEO Lyell Strambi stated “vaccination is our only path out of this situation, it is the only way to unlock international travel opportunities and to restore the freedoms we once enjoyed”. Mr Strambi added: “It is a matter of urgent and critical national interest” that Australia’s vaccination supply challenges are addressed, “as well as vaccine hesitancy among some parts of our community”.
Iberia CEO: IAG contribution to Spain is development of Madrid as an east and west facing hub
Iberia CEO Javier Sánchez-Prieto, via an interview with CNN, said the “greatest contribution that IAG can make to Spain is the development of Madrid as a hub that faces east and west”. He also highlighted the value of the tourism sector for Spain and acknowledged that the Spanish government has been more proactive in reopening.
Fukuoka Airport CCO: ‘Vaccine passports will be really important’ to recovery of international travel in Asia
Fukuoka International Airport Corporation chief commercial officer (CCO) Chin Leong Teo stated “vaccine passports will be really important” to the recovery of international travel in Asia, but said “we need consistency and a mutual recognition across the different platforms and systems” to ensure vaccine passports “help with recovery and not hinder it”. Mr Teo added: “My sense is that passports will likely be combined with a good dose of PCR testing”, noting “I think few governments in Asia will give up arrival PCR tests and many will still insist on the pre-departure PCR tests, at least for the short term”.
Aena chairman: Barcelona El Prat Airport will reach capacity limit by 2031 without expansion
Aena chairman Maurici Lucena said Barcelona-El Prat Josep Tarradellas Airport’s infrastructure will reach the limit of its capacity by 2031 if the airport does not undergo expansion. Mr Lucena added a lack of expansion will result in a “significant” rise in ticket prices. Barcelona City Council confirmed its opposition to the airport’s expansion in Jun-2021.
Fiji Attorney General: If vaccination targets are met by Christmas ‘Our borders could be reopened’
Fiji’s Attorney General and Minister for Economy, Civil Service, Communication and Minister Responsible for Climate Change Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said if Fiji reaches its coronavirus vaccination targets by Christmas 2021, “Our borders could be reopened to some of our most important source markets for tourism, planes could be flying, careers could be restored”. Mr Sayed-Khaiyum added there are talks to “establish mutual recognition of vaccine protocols with countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Singapore and the United States of America”.