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 Aug-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.
Air New Zealand chief operational integrity and safety officer: ‘the clock is ticking’
Air New Zealand chief operational integrity and safety officer David Morgan stated coronavirus has not slowed down the carrier’s attitude towards sustainability, “because the clock is ticking”. Mr Morgan said the industry has commitments to “live up to”, and “as long as we… prevaricate and delay” the industry will not “solve the problem that we have to solve”.
AEF deputy director: Technology change alone cannot get aviation industry to zero emissions
Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) deputy director Cait Hewitt stated “We have not seen evidence that the pace of technology change is going to be fast enough for us to feel confident this industry can get to net zero emissions without there also being limits on demand”.
IATA SVP sustainability & environment: ‘The enemy is CO2 emissions’
IATA SVP sustainability & environment Sebastian Mikosz stated “Not flying is not the solution to the climate problem and the global pandemic cannot be a solution to environmental problems”, adding “Over the last 15 or so months our economic activity was severely down and our gas emissions were only down by 7%, so even if you stop the whole economy it still doesn’t solve the problem. The enemy here is not travel or airlines, the enemy is CO2 emissions”.
Air Astana CEO: Alliances may need to ‘adapt quite radically’ to ‘very different looking airlines’
Air Astana president and CEO Peter Foster commented on recovery from the coronavirus crisis, stating: “Some airlines are going to emerge in pretty strong shape and a lot of airlines are going to emerge very weak”. Regarding the impact on global alliances, Mr Foster said: “You’re going to have a lot of very different looking airlines in any particular alliance, all with very different priorities. So I would imagine that the alliances are going to have to adapt quite radically to accommodate what are going to be, I suspect, very different airline and very different management models”.
EUROCONTROL director general: The future and role of hubs could change as a result of COVID-19
EUROCONTROL director general Eamonn Brennan said he believes there could be debates about the future and changing role of large hubs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mr Brennan stated: “As aircraft can go more point to point, passengers want to go point to point and it’s much greener to go point to point; then the question becomes, how do places like Paris and Amsterdam and all of these big hubs survive in the future? The old A380 versus 787 debate was between hub and spoke and point to point, and I think point to point has been the big winner”.
Etihad CEO: Incentivisation & cost reductions are needed to make SAF ‘commercially sustainable’
Etihad Airways CEO Tony Douglas stated sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) “clearly isn’t going to be a commercially sustainable part of the solution” without adjustments to current pricing and deceleration of production costs. Mr Douglas highlighted a need for “some form of incentivisation to make it the preferred choice”, adding: “quite often taxation drives the wrong sort of behaviour… Tax might be a small part of the solution, but actually incentivisation is far more important”.
Brussels Airlines CEO: ‘People are really eager to fly again’ but ‘big question marks’ remain for travel recovery
Brussels Airlines CEO Peter Gerber stated “people are really eager to fly again”. Mr Gerber said travellers require security and certainty and will start to travel immediately when these elements are in place. However, there are “quite some big question marks” regarding travel recovery. On the development of business travel: Mr Gerber said there is “still quite a weak demand”, but demand is mixed across business segments. He said SMEs and essential business travel are “coming back” while large companies remain “a bit reluctant” to travel. Mr Gerber forecast “an unpleasant winter” for the 2021/2022 season, but added that he is more optimistic for the following summer. Mr Gerber predicted 2022 will be “a quite interesting year”.
Envest Global executive director: ‘There is a demand for doing better’
Envest Global executive director Brett Mitsch stated “the question of ‘what’s after COVID’, this is, we believe that this [sustainability] is truly an existential threat, because… there is a demand from customers, from investors, from society in general”. Mr Mitsch added: “Even though it’s a hard to abate industry, there is a demand for doing better, because the airline industry is part of the global climate change question… or issue”.
LATAM COO: Pandemic allowed time to think about five to ten year plan
LATAM Airlines Group COO Hernan Pasman stated the COVID-19 pandemic afforded the group time to “think about what we’re doing, what we’re doing well and what we needed to improve”. Mr Pasman said LATAM thought through its plan over the next five to ten years, adding: “When you have so many planes, departures arrivals – you don’t have much time to think about these things”. He said: “In those terms it was an opportunity that we absolutely took advantage of”.
Emerald Airlines CEO: Now is the best time to start an airline
Emerald Airlines CEO Conor McCarthy stated the current environment is the “best time to start an airline”, due to the weakening of competition and the ability to start with a greenfield cost base. Mr McCarthy said the airline has taken “the maximum advantage” of cheap aircraft and long term flexible power by the hour deals, resulting in aircraft costs featuring in direct operating costs, rather than as a sunk monthly cost. The carrier expects to launch in 4Q2021, with aims to have a fleet comprising 15 ATR 72s by the end of 2022″.
Icelandair ‘very pleased with 737 MAX’, mulls replacement for 757
Icelandair CEO Bogi Nils Bogason stated the company expects to conclude its long term fleet restructuring strategy by the end of 2021, with a focus on “which aircraft will replace the Boeing 757, which we will use for destinations like Seattle, Portland, Orlando and so on”. Mr Bogason stated the updated fleet strategy will continue to prioritise emission reduction, adding: “We are very pleased with the Boeing 737 MAX, the aircraft has outperformed expectations both regarding range and fuel efficiency”.
Bangkok Airways: We need to regain traveller confidence
Bangkok Airways president and CEO Puttipong Prasarttong-Osoth stated “I think what we need to do is to regain the confidence of tourists who want to travel”, adding domestic travel demand is gradually resuming. Mr Prasarttong-Osoth said the carrier may have to look at pricing strategies and opening up new destinations in order to increase competitiveness.
IBS Software: All systems must work in tandem to ensure passengers feel safe to fly
IBS Software president and head Jitendra Sindhwani stated “IBS also works on the loyalty and flight reservation side of operations, and what really worked was [thinking] how do you make sure communication is happening a lot more productively”. Mr Sindhwani said: “How to give [passengers] the comfort that flying is safe and once they decide to fly, how do you make sure there is a more productive communication”. He added: “The way we look at it, it’s like the operations system, combined with reservation, customer experience and loyalty systems – they all have to work in tandem to make sure communication gives passengers the comfort they are in safe hands”.
airBaltic targeting IPO in 2023 ‘at the earliest’: CEO
airBaltic CEO Martin Gauss confirmed the airline will pursue an IPO, which will provide a return to Latvia’s Government for support provided to the airline. Mr Gauss said the IPO may take place in 2023 “at the earliest”. He said airBaltic “will probably end up being a private company after the IPO” and “will be very well positioned”. The Latvian Government provided EUR250 million for the airline in 2020, while another EUR90 million is awaiting approval by the European Commission. Mr Gauss commented: “We will go to the stock exchange and we will return it”, adding: “The money is not a gift”.
LIPAD: Clark Airport terminal will be ‘critical’ to economic recovery
Luzon International Premier Airport Development Corporation (LIPAD) CEO Bi Yong S Chungunco stated Clark International Airport is a “major growth driver” for central and northern Luzon, adding the airport’s terminal development will be “critical” to the country’s economic recovery. Ms Chungunco said once open, the new terminal will have a floor area of 110,000sqm, 18 aerobridges and a design capacity of eight million passengers p/a. The building will house both domestic and international flights at the terminal.
WestJet: Amsterdam Schiphol service has seen ‘astonishing’ load factor
WestJet president and CEO Ed Sims stated from an international perspective, the carrier is aiming to “minimise risk and operate with prudence and caution”. Mr Sims said WestJet is consolidating its European network and building a network from three hubs: Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto. He added the carrier’s Amsterdam service is recording an “astonishing” load factor, and services to Paris CDG and London have given it the basis to build back to destinations including Rome, Dublin, Glasgow and Edinburgh.