CTC – Corporate Travel Community brings you a roundup of the most thought-provoking and interesting comments from those industry leaders in the know during the recent Jul-2021 edition of CAPA Live – a monthly virtual summit, offering insights, information, data and live interviews with airline CEOs and industry executives across a next-gen virtual event platform.
AirAsia Group CEO: We’re five months behind US and Europe
AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes stated “Vaccines are coming in and we can see from Europe and the US that life is starting to go back to normal but due to the inequality in vaccines we’re five months behind, but we will get there in the end”. Mr Fernandes added: “I’m a big advocate of testing and newer technology and I think it is equally as important as vaccines”.
Air France-KLM EVP strategy reveals high load factors in premium cabins on North American services
Air France-KLM executive vice president strategy Angus Clarke stated the carrier has “some protection” against the decline in corporate travel, given that 40%-50% of its business class traffic has historically comprised unaligned, non corporate high end leisure travellers. Mr Clarke said the airline is seeing high load factors in premium cabins on North American services, adding the signals about corporate traffic are “not amazing”.
Travelport: Pandemic is an opportunity to reset perceptions of travel businesses
Travelport chief marketing officer Jen Catto stated the coronavirus pandemic represents “a rare opportunity to reset how people perceive travel businesses”. Ms Catto added: “People are clearly looking forward to travelling again… we have a really solid crisis here that we should not let go to waste”.
EUROCONTROL director general: North Atlantic will not resume passenger services until late Sep-2021
EUROCONTROL director general Eamonn Brennan stated “long haul is a disaster. On cargo operations airlines are doing very well, but in the North Atlantic we’re seeing very strong uncertainty”, adding “we’re not seeing any kind of major indication that the European Union, US and UK are engaging to open up the market share”. Mr Brennan also said he expects that the North Atlantic will not resume passenger services until the latter half of Sep-2021.
Norse Atlantic CEO: We think the timing is right for a long haul LCC
Norse Atlantic Airways CEO Bjørn Tore Larsen, speaking at CAPA Live July 2021, stated the start-up will “fly long haul only” and “try to beat the conventional wisdom that you can’t do low cost long haul”. He stated the company is confident in its strategy, adding: “We think the timing is fairly good, simply because of the availability of aircraft. We have secured nine Boeing Dreamliners on lease at very competitive rates and also very flexible terms”. As previously reported by CAPA, Norse Atlantic signed agreements with AerCap in Mar-2021 for six 787-9s and three 787-8s on long term lease, with delivery scheduled between 2H2021 and 1Q2022.
EU Commission DG Mobility and Transport: US position on non essential travel ‘extremely restrictive’
European Commission Director General Mobility and Transport Henrik Hololei stated the US Government has taken an “extremely restrictive” position by prohibiting non-essential travel from Europe, despite Europe lifting the restriction for travel in the other direction. Mr Hololei urged the US to recognise the EU Digital Green Certificate, which has been implemented in Europe since 01-Jul-2021.
Ryanair DAC CEO: digital EU passport has ‘given people the confidence to book’
Ryanair DAC CEO Eddie Wilson, speaking at CAPA Live July 2021, stated the digital EU passport has “given people the confidence to book”, but noting the UK and Ireland is lagging”. Mr Wilson said following UK Government announcements, the carrier expects “that will…make its way into travel and we will see the…return to travel without restrictions…for member countries”.
RwandAir ‘to focus on connecting Africa even better than we were before’: CEO
RwandAir CEO Yvonne Manzi Makolo stated the airline has resumed most of its African routes. Ms Makolo said: “We really want to focus on connecting Africa even better than we were before”. She added: “We believe that there’s a lot of potential in terms of linking African markets to each other and beyond the African continent”.
CAPA chairman emeritus: North Atlantic likely to reopen faster than other international sectors
CAPA – Centre for Aviation chairman emeritus Peter Harbison stated “the North Atlantic probably will reopen faster than other large international sectors” for air travel, as “vaccination levels are higher in these regions than other parts of the world”. Mr Harbison noted the “US domestic market has recovered strongly” from the impact of COVID-19, and “strenuous attempts are being made to reopen the very valuable North Atlantic market, US to Europe, and Canada to Europe”. He added that “increased narrowbody operations will enhance the potential for point-to-point operations across the North Atlantic, both by new entrants and by established airlines with new narrowbody fleets”.
Robert Crandall: Airlines ending up with more capacity than they’d like to have
Robert Crandall, former chairman and CEO of American Airlines stated “You can’t get load factors and yields up unless you create a circumstance where demand is well in excess of supply, and you can’t do that if you have no real notion of how many people are going to fly”. Mr Crandall said airlines are “scheduling as much as they believe they can reasonable schedule without wasting liquidity, adding: “What they end up with is a circumstance where there’s a little more capacity in some places than they’d like to have”.
AFRAA secretary general: Certain countries remain reluctant to join SAATM
African Airlines Association (AFRAA) secretary general Abdérahmane Berthé stated certain countries remain reluctant to join the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) initiative “because they want to protect their national carriers”. Mr Berthé said: “SAATM will improve the level of connectivity in the continent… connectivity is very, very low in Africa and it’s very important to open the market and this will allow airlines to improve their networks and to put in place more cooperation”.
Philippines Department of Tourism: Air travel remains ‘pivotal’ in economic landscape
Philippines’ Department of Tourism Undersecretary for Tourism Development Benito C Bengzon Jr stated air travel remains “pivotal” in the Philippines’ economic landscape, adding domestic tourism has a “major role” as the primary driver for the industry’s growth and recovery. Mr Bengzon said traveller preference and expectations have shifted due to the pandemic, adding the department seen a trend towards outdoor and adventure travel in the years to come.
Turkish Airlines CMO: IATA Travel Pass trial aims to reduce document checking time to 20 seconds
Turkish Airlines chief marketing officer Ahmet Olmustur stated the carrier has been trialling IATA’s Travel Pass on services to Chicago and New York JFK in Jul-2021. Mr Olmustur said the initiative aimed to reduce document checking time from one minute to 20 seconds, adding that a universal acceptance of digital vaccine passports would hasten the industry’s recovery.
PLAY plans entry to long haul market ‘with a much lower CASK’ from 2022: CEO
PLAY CEO Birgir Jonsson, speaking at CAPA Live July 2021, outlined the carrier’s “two phased building structure”, comprising a “flexible ramp up” of point to point operations serving Europe in line with demand through summer 2021, followed by a hub and spoke model with six or more aircraft in operation from spring 2022, serving Europe and North America. Mr Jonsson said the location of PLAY’s Reykjavik hub allows it to engage with larger markets by “combining passenger flows, [using] smaller narrowbody aircraft to connect cities in Europe and North America… Basically the ability to enter a long haul market with a much lower CASK”.
Malaysia Airlines to ‘revamp our product and service offerings to be more competitive’
Malaysia Airlines chief strategy officer Bryan Foong Chee Yeong stated “the Malaysian and ASEAN market is primarily dominated by LCCs, so we as a full service carrier need to figure out how we can survive in this space”. Mr Foong reported that “over the next five years, we will be looking to revamp our product and service offerings to be more competitive”.
InterMiles ‘started as a frequent flyer programme but is becoming a platform of choice’
InterMiles CEO Manish Dureja, speaking at CAPA Live July 2021 stated InterMiles “started as a frequent flyer programme… [but] is building towards becoming a platform of choice”. Mr Dureja said InterMiles “builds different platforms to enable experiences for our members and also to fulfil the lifestyle aspirations of our members”. He added: “We strive to find moments where we can save customers time by creating value at each touchpoint”.
AirAsia Group aiming to be in the ‘whole logistics chain’
AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes stated “I want to be part of the whole logistics chain, from first mile, last mile and mid mile”. Mr Fernandes said the group also aims to be in “the warehouse game” and will also be “a direct source to freight forwarders and be a freight forwarder ourselves”. He added: “There’s no one that can really match us in terms of speed in Southeast Asia and be an e-commerce provider”.
Philadelphia International CEO: ‘UV devices and air quality’ to become big considerations post-COVID
Philadelphia International Airport CEO Rochelle Cameron projected that “UV devices and air quality” are going to become long term considerations for airports as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ms Cameron also said she believes “airline travellers have moved to take more control of their journeys during COVID” and that airports will need to meet this traveller need with “continued involvement and investment in technology”.
Western Sydney Airport to see carriers from core markets and ‘new routes developed as well’: CEO
Western Sydney Airport CEO Simon Hickey stated on an international basis, “I think we’ll see” carriers from core markets, adding “we’ll see new routes developed as well”. Mr Hickey said approximately “25% of international business is driven from family reunions”, adding “we know that for India that’s more like 56%, and I can imagine with the big Indian populations we’ve got in Western Sydney that… we’ll see some direct routes open up”.