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.
SAS CEO: Aviation recovery dependent ‘on the uncertain development of the pandemic’
SAS CEO Anko van der Werff said aviation recovery is dependent “on the uncertain development of the pandemic”. Mr van der Werff said the carrier is expecting “travel to increase gradually as more and more people are vaccinated worldwide”, however is also “aware that demand has changed during the pandemic”. The carrier is expecting a larger number of leisure travel, “and even more intense competition in the future”. Passengers are booking services closer to the travel date, allowing the carrier the “flexibility to ramp up and down, will be a success factor in the airline industry going forward”.
Australia’s Prime Minister: International travel ‘a really good reason to get vaccinated’
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated “if we hit 80 per cent, Phase C of the plan enables Australians who are vaccinated to be able to leave Australia and return… then that sounds like a really good reason to get vaccinated”. Mr Morrison said the plan enables Australians who are vaccinated against coronavirus “in situations like that to be able to travel and return at significantly reduced risk to themselves and to others”.
IATA: EU decision on US travel restrictions is a disappointing development
IATA director general Willie Walsh said the EU’s decision to reimpose some travel restrictions on US arrivals is “a disappointing development for businesses and people who rely on travel”. Mr Walsh stated the data from the US and Israel “supports the value and benefit of vaccination”, and “governments need to be confident in the benefits they bring – including the freedom to travel”. Mr Walsh added that as a minimum, people who are fully vaccinated “should be free to move without restriction”.
Air New Zealand when ‘Auckland goes down’, domestic network ‘fails to operate properly’
Air New Zealand CEO Greg Foran said: “When Auckland goes down”, its approximately half of Air New Zealand’s domestic network “that fails to operate properly”. Mr Foran added: “Domestic is about a third of the business, so when I’ve said to you that then half of that doesn’t operate, that’s a half of a third and… that’s a challenge for us”.
LATAM Airlines Brasil CEO: Azul acquisition ‘out of the question’
LATAM Airlines Brasil Jerome Cadier said a potential acquisition by Azul is “out of the question”. As previously reported, Azul CEO John Rodgerson recently said the proposed transaction would “benefit the entire industry”.
Rex executive chair: ‘airline industry has never been as badly ravaged in its entire history’
Regional Express (Rex) executive chairman Lim Kim Hai stated “the airline industry has never been as badly ravaged in its entire history as today with a staggering drop of 56% in passenger numbers globally”. Mr Lim said: “To understand the magnitude of the devastation, the drop in global passenger numbers was 16% during the Global Financial Crisis”, noting that Rex’s passenger numbers decreased 29% in FY2021.
Ryanair CEO calls for suspension of UK air passenger duty
Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary urged the UK Government to suspend air passenger duty, claiming the tax makes UK airports “uncompetitive” against their lower cost EU counterparts. Mr O’Leary said the carrier has added capacity at EU airports to avoid the duty, adding a lack of government support for aviation is creating “further barriers” to traffic and growth.
ICAO: Global health proof verification an ‘urgent priority for the international community’
ICAO secretary general Juan Carlos Salazar said the need to provide internationally verifiable health proof to travellers has become an urgent global concern, and the topic is an “urgent priority for the international community”. Mr Salazar said a number of countries are now “actively engaging with ICAO on suitable formats for their national health proofs” based around the ICAO Visible Digital Seal, which was originally adopted by countries for travel document verification.
Flight Centre priorities have ‘evolved from emergency cost cutting’ to maintenance: CEO
Flight Centre Travel Group CEO Graham Turner announced the group’s priorities have “evolved from emergency cost cutting at the beginning of the crisis to maintaining those significantly reduced expenses, while still developing and implementing our technology, improving productivity and finetuning our recovery strategies to drive stronger future returns”. Mr Turner said: “Looking ahead, we believe our position as a diversified global business with compelling customer offerings across three main travel divisions” which includes leisure, corporate and supply, “will be of enormous value and a great advantage to us and to our major suppliers”.
Airlink CEO questions the need for South African Airways
Airlink (South Africa) CEO and MD Rodger Foster questioned the South African Government’s decision to relaunch South African Airways. Mr Foster commented: “As long as competition is free and fair, supply and demand will determine the market… my view is that, when you look at the history and what government is trying to achieve, one has to ask whether a state owned airline is needed”.
Etihad Airways: We put ‘extremely high focus’ on connectivity in India
Etihad Airways CEO Tony Douglas stated the Indian subcontinent is the carrier’s biggest source market due to “the proximity and the size of the population and the growth”. Mr Douglas added: “We put extremely high focus upon connectivity into India, not just with Etihad, but also with Air Arabia Abu Dhabi”.
Helloworld CEO: ‘there is finally some light at the end of the tunnel’
Helloworld Travel Limited CEO Andrew Burnes stated “after 18 months of being largely shut down, there is finally some light at the end of the tunnel”, as Australians and New Zealanders begin to be vaccinated. Mr Burnes noted: “With rapid testing, herd immunity and the extraordinary desire of the human race to explore, travel will once again become one of the most in demand experiences in the years ahead”, adding that travel agents in both Australia and New Zealand are expected to rebound.
Comair scales down to fit smaller domestic market, airline consolidation expected: CEO
Comair (South Africa) CEO Glenn Orsmond stated the carrier has scaled down its business and “right-sized” its cost base, “because the South African flying market is just smaller than it was pre-COVID”. Mr Orsmond said the market has reduced from about 15 million to 10 million departing passengers per annum. He also said having six airlines operating on the Johannesburg-Cape Town route “probably is a few too many”, adding: “The survivors are going to be the ones with the lowest costs, the best brands, the best customer service”.
Fiji’s Economy Minister: Qantas plans to operate Fiji services indicate Fiji is a ‘safe place’
Fiji’s Economy Minister and Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said Qantas plans for a resumption of Fiji services in Dec-2021 “indicates that they believe that Fiji will be a safe place to take Australia tourists to”. Mr Sayed-Khaiyum added: “From our perspective, that’s great news but it also means from our perspective that Fiji Airways can also fly to Australia and bring back Australians to Fiji”.
Aeroflot reports ‘significant improvement’ in financial performance for 2Q2021
Aeroflot deputy CEO for commerce and finance Andrey Chikhanchin reported “significant improvement” in the airline’s financial performance for 2Q2021, with a net loss of RUB2.6 billion (EUR30 million) compared to a loss of RUB35.8 billion (EUR413.2 million) in 2Q2020. Mr Chikhanchin commented: “This the closest that the group has come to a positive result since the onset of the pandemic”.