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.
General Electric CEO: Leisure travel is back, and business travel not that far behind
General Electric CEO Larry Culp said it “looks like the leisure traveller is back” and business travellers “are not that far behind, hopefully” (CNBC, 27-Jul-2021). Mr Culp said travel in China is ” just off single digits from where they were in 2019″ and Europe is “slowly, gradually, coming back “. This, and the increasing levels of vaccinations, are “what gives us the optimism and the confidence about our aviation business” Mr Culp said.
Wizz Air sees ‘encouraging recovery patterns’ in Q1FY2022
Wizz Air CEO József Váradi stated Q1FY2022 “remained challenging” as the carrier only operated 33% of available capacity due to mobility restrictions. Mr Váradi said the carrier recorded “encouraging recovery patterns” in air travel and as the quarter progressed Wizz deployed higher levels of capacity, operating 62% of 2019 ASKs by the end of Jun-2021. He added: “We have now entered a busy part of the summer, ramping up our operations to meet increased demand whilst maintaining operational flexibility to deal with evolving travel restrictions”.
Ryanair Group CEO: FY2022 ‘continues to be challenging’
Ryanair Group CEO Michael O’Leary stated FY2022 “continues to be challenging”, as coronavirus travel restrictions prolong uncertainty. Mr O’Leary noted as “the booking curve remaining very close-in and fares well below pre COVID-19 levels, visibility for the remainder of FY2022 is close to zero”, with FY2022 guidance remaining “impossible… at this time”.
JetBlue Airways sees ‘strong signs’ of returning travel demand in 2Q2021
JetBlue Airways CEO Robin Hayes reported the carrier saw “strong signs” of returning consumer confidence and travel demand in 2Q2021. Mr Hayes said JetBlue continued to generate “positive cash from operations” and expects continued improvement in operating performance as it progresses towards a full recovery. He added: “Our attention is now squarely on rebuilding our margins and repairing our balance sheet”.
‘The next three months will be very key’ for South African Airways: CEO
South African Airways (SAA) interim CEO Thomas Kgokolo stated the airline hopes to have its air operator’s certificate (AOC) reissued by 30-Jul-2021. If the AOC is confirmed, the airline intends to initially resume cargo operations, having finalised pilot retraining on 24-Jul-2021. The carrier will then announce a relaunch date for passenger operations in late Jul-2021 or early Aug-2021. Mr Kgokolo said SAA has eight aircraft ready to resume operations and expects to receive another two in mid Aug-2021. He commented: “The next three months will be very key… in terms of us being able to remodel the business and being able to relaunch a business that can sustain itself”.
Qatar Airways ‘unlikely’ to operate more than five A380s in the future: CEO
Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker said there is “a very small possibility” the carrier will operate A380 aircraft in the future, adding: “If we go back into operating them at all, I don’t think it will be more than five”. Mr Al Baker previously confirmed the airline had taken impairment of five A380s in Apr-2021 and may take impairment on its remaining five through to 2023/2024.
Southwest Airlines CEO: 2Q2021 operating revenues ‘significantly improved’
Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly stated 2Q2021 operating revenues “significantly improved” and monthly operating revenue trends improved sequentially throughout the quarter. Mr Kelly said jet fuel prices also “increased significantly” compared with 1Q2021 and 2Q2020. Despite cost penalties of technology and weather disruptions, non fuel cost performance was in line with guidance and the carrier expects higher fuel prices and capacity driven cost increases year-over-year in 3Q2021.
Icelandair Group CEO: 2Q2021 results ‘remarkable’ despite increased costs & travel restrictions
Icelandair Group stated increased year-on-year costs for 2Q2021 reflect its strategic operational expansion, including the reintroduction of eight aircraft from storage and USD3.8 million dispensed in marketing campaigns, with weekly frequencies increasing from 28 to 160 in the period. Icelandair president and CEO Bogi Nils Bogason noted the quarter results were “still heavily impacted” by ongoing travel restrictions, though “strong booking flow” in Jun-2021 represents a “main driver for positive cash flow from operations of over USD65 million. This is a remarkable turnaround from the previous year”
Committee on Climate Change CEO calls for ‘scalable’ emission offsets
Committee on Climate Change CEO Chris Stark called for the aviation sector to implement “scalable” emissions offsets, and “We are not just talking about planting trees”. Mr Stark said it is not likely that the sector will reach net zero by 2050, noting: “I would prefer to see engineered removals matched with those residual aviation emissions”, adding “It is something the aviation sector itself should pay for and therefore will increase the cost of aviation if those offsets have to be managed and paid for”.
IndiGo results ‘severely impacted by the second COVID-19 wave’ in Q1FY2021/2022
IndiGo CEO Ronojoy Dutta, commenting on the LCC’s Q1FY2021/2022 financial results, stated IndiGo is “deeply disappointed” with its results for the quarter, which “were severely impacted by the second COVID-19 wave” in India. Mr Dutta noted: “The number of passengers travelling declined sharply in the months of May and June”, but said “with the second COVID wave receding, we are seeing a measured recovery in bookings for July and August”.
SITA: Governments must examine border control operations to ensure sustainable economic recovery
SITA AT BORDERS strategy and portfolio director, border management & government services Peter Sutcliffe said the combination of climbing vaccination rates and evolving PCR and health test verification providing for seamless health status verification “presents a pivotal moment in both the fight against COVID and the struggle to kick-start idle economies”. Mr Sutcliffe said the best practice framework for border protection is a ‘defence-in-depth model’, which takes a layered approach by having a sequence of screening steps in place for managing risks, with the primary goal of preventing risks from reaching a country in the first place. He added that while closing borders and imposing lockdowns are “very effective ways to slow the spread of a virus such as COVID-19”, shutting borders also means shutting down critical parts of the economy such as aviation and tourism. Mr Sutcliffe argued that more than ever before, countries need “robust border controls in place, controls that allow essential and safe travel, and controls that can be configured quickly to treat evolving risks”.