Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Airlines

Cathay Pacific Appoints Customer Chief Ronald Lam as New CEO

3 months ago

Cathay Pacific announced on Wednesday that CEO Augustus Tan would be stepping down on December 31 and chief customer and commercial officer, Ronald Lam would succeed him.

Even after appointed the CEO of Catahay Pacific, the airline has said Lam would continue to serve as chair of HK Express, Cathay’s low-cost subsidiary.

Lam was appointed chief customer and commercial officer in 2019. He joined the Cathay Pacific Group as a management trainee in 1996 and has since held a number of senior leadership roles in Hong Kong and overseas, including CEO of HK Express.

As the airline looks to increase its passenger flight capacity and strengthen connectivity, Lam would lead the airline through its post-Covid recovery and the introduction of the three-runway system at Hong Kong International Airport, Patrick Healy, chair of Cathay Pacific Group, said in a press statement.

“The company’s dual-brand strategy comprising Cathay Pacific as a premium full-service airline and HK Express as a wholly owned low-cost carrier have positioned it well to take advantage of the recovery and continue contributing to the long-term success of the Hong Kong hub,” Healy said.

Healy also spoke of Tang’s critical role in the airline’s restructuring in 2020 and its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic

Releasing its September figures, the airline has said that it would continue to add more flights in the coming months.

In addition to the flight sectors previously scheduled for November and December, the airline had announced that it would be adding more than half a million seats with an increase of around 700 sectors in November and 1,200 in December.

Japan and London Heathrow sectors would be witnessing a substantial increase in passenger flights in November and December, the airline had said.

In another board reshuffle announced Wednesday, Lavinia Lau will replace Lam as the chief customer and commercial officer from January 1 and Alexander McGowan will replace Gregory Hughes as chief operations and service delivery officer, effective April 1.

Airlines

AirAsia India-Air India Merger by 2023 as AirAsia Sells Off India Stake to Tatas

3 months ago

Budget carrier AirAsia India is likely to be merged with Air India Express by the end of 2023. An operational review process is underway to integrate the two carriers, Air India said in a statement this week.

The merger news follows Malaysia-based AirAsia Aviation Group’s announcement on Wednesday that it has sold off its remaining 16.67 percent stake in AirAsia India to Tatas-owned Air India.

The agreement that will fetch AirAsia $18.83 million, also states that AirAsia India can continue to use the ‘AirAsia’ brand name for 12 months.

Aimed at having a single low-cost carrier for the Air India group, following the merger the entity will be branded as Air India Express, a statement read.

In June, Indian watchdog Competition Commission of India had approved the proposed acquisition of the entire shareholding of AirAsia India by Air India.

Following the acquisition of Air India and Air India Express in January, the Tata Group now owns four airlines — Air India, Air India Express, AirAsia India and Vistara. Vistara is a joint venture with Singapore Airlines.

In a recent interview with Skift the Vistara CEO when asked about a possible merger between the airlines under the Tata fold had said that there are certain discussions that have been happening which he is not privy to.

Commenting further on AirAsia selling off its remaining stake to Air India, Group CEO of AirAsia Aviation Group, Bo Lingam, said Covid has allowed them to re-examine priorities, and the group feels it is best suited for AirAsia to develop an Asean-only business with airlines in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.

“We will use the experience and knowledge we have gained from operating in the Indian domestic market to grow the Asean-Indian market in logistics and passenger services to a far greater extent,” Lingam added.

Launched in 2014, AirAsia India currently flies to 18 destinations with a market share of 5.9 percent.

Airlines

Emirates Calls Travelers to ‘Fly Better’ With Its Gerry The Goose Campaign

5 months ago

After Hollywood celebrities Jennifer Anniston and Chris Hemsworth, Gerry the Goose is winging it as the newest brand ambassador for Dubai-based carrier Emirates. The brand campaign featuring Gerry, a Canadian goose, will run in 25 countries for one month, starting August 30.

As part of its ‘Fly Better’ campaign, Emirates said it “is inviting customers to take a gander at the benefits and services of the airline.”

Created through computer-generated imagery, Gerry the Goose is shown onboard an Emirates flight enjoying the finer things in life while watching “The Goose (enough of the puns, already!), The Bad and The Ugly.” Right outside the plane window, his tired friends are shown make their “monumental journey” through wind and rain from one continent to the other.

As Gerry remarks, “If you’re going to fly, you may as well fly better.”

“In terms of the qualities and profile we look for in our brand ambassadors — we are spreading our wings,” said Richard Billington, senior vice president of marketing and brand at Emirates. 

Earlier this month, Emirates announced that it would be investing over $2 billion to enhance its inflight customer experience, including a massive programme to retrofit over 120 aircraft with the latest interiors, plus an array of other service improvements across all cabins.

Through the pandemic we’ve continued to launch new services and initiatives to ensure our customers travel with the assurance and ease, including digital initiatives to improve customer experiences on the ground, said Tim Clark, president of Emirates. “Now we’re rolling out a series of intensive programmes to take Emirates’ signature inflight experiences to the next level.”

For the eleventh consecutive year, Emirates also returns as the official airline of the ongoing US Open Tennis Championships.

Emirates has been building up connectivity in response to growing customer demand on the back of rising travel confidence and the easing of international travel protocols. In an earlier forecast Clark had said that the airline would return to profitability by next year.

Airlines

Indian Airport Lounge Aggregator DreamFolks Hopes to Open IPO on August 24

5 months ago

India-based airport lounge services aggregator, DreamFolks Services, will be launching its initial public offering in India on August 24. 

DreamFolks Services, through its asset-light business model, integrates global card players, credit card and debit card issuers with airlines and various airport lounge operators. The company also manages loyalty programmes for airlines.

Starting out as an agrregator of airport lounges, DreamFolks now calls itself “a provider of end-to-end technological solutions for building and delivering services that improve the airport experience.”

The initial public offering will open for subscription on August 24 and close on August 26.

The initial public offering is entirely an offer for sale through which the company’s promoters — Liberatha Peter Kallat, Dinesh Nagpal, and Mukesh Yadav — will offload 17 million shares, which constitutes around 33 percent of the post-offer paid-up equity share capital of the company, according to a PTI report.

With the Indian lounge market set for a massive boost, DreamFolks’ decision to go public is said to be rightly timed.

The number of airport lounges in India is expected to increase to 70-90 by 2025 and 150-160 by 2030, as per estimates based on a Frost & Sullivan research. Currently, India has around 54 airport lounges, with 31 percent of the lounges concentrated in the three key metropolitan airports of New Delhi, Chennai and Mumbai.

The total number of operational airports is expected to reach 295 by 2040 with industry revenues expected to grow to $28.6 billion by 2040.

DreamFolks can also take heart from the fact that the non-aeronautical earnings per passenger went up from around $2 in the financial year of 2017 to $4.2 in the financial year of 2021, indicating that passengers are willing to spend more.

The aviation sector has been contributing roughly 3.5 percent to India’s gross domestic product.

Airlines

Jet Startup Aero Raises $65 Million to Grow Its Network

5 months ago

Semi-private jet company Aero has raised $65 million in funding to expand its network, and to service demand on existing routes.

Currently it operates flights to Aspen, Los Cabos and Sun Valley from private terminals in Los Angeles and San Francisco in the U.S, as well as Ibiza, Mykonos, and Nice from London’s Farnborough Airport

The Series B round was co-led by Albacore Capital Group and returning investors Expa and Keyframe Capital, as well as new investment from Capital One Ventures (which last year invested in popular booking app Hopper.)

Unlike other jet services, Aero aims to stand out by focusing on connecting millennials with destinations that offer Instagram-worthy experiences. It owns and operates its aircraft, and sells individual seats on flights to leisure destinations around the world.

Aero CEO Uma Subramanian formerly worked on Airbus’ helicopter service Voom.Flights, which closed down in 2020.

The startup previously raised $20 million in Series A funding in March last year, and before that $16 million in 2019.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article described Aero as a private jet company, and said it did not own or operate its own aircraft, and provides ticket resale for flights on registered air carriers on selected routes

Airlines

India’s Newest Carrier Akasa Air to Begin Commercial Operations From August 7

6 months ago

Akasa Air, India’s newest airline, will be taking to the skies on August 7 with its first flight connecting the country’s financial center — Mumbai with Ahmedabad in western India.

Akasa will operate 28 weekly flights between Mumbai and Ahmedabad. From August 13 onwards, the airline will start operating 28 weekly flights between Bengaluru, more popularly known as India’s Silicon Valley, and Kochi — a city in the coastal state of Kerala.

The bookings for flights are now open. The airline that claims to have India’s youngest and greenest fleet, will be operating the brand-new Boeing 737 Max aircraft on both routes. Akasa plans to add two aircraft to its fleet each month, in its first year.

In an interview with Skift, Vinay Dube, the airline’s founder and CEO, had highlighted that the airline’s network strategy would focus on establishing a strong pan-India presence linking metropolitan cities to Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities across the country.

“We will adopt a phased approach to support our network expansion plans, progressively connecting more cities, as we add two aircraft to our fleet each month, in our first year,” said Praveen Iyer, co-founder and chief commercial officer of Akasa Air.

Calling the airline unlike anything experienced in the category thus far, Dube reiterated the importance of providing an efficient customer service, a reliable and dependable network, and affordable fares.

The airline will be offering buy-on-board meal service through Cafe Akasa.

Airlines

Saudi Arabia to Slash Airport Fees to Compete With Rival Hubs

6 months ago

After offering financial incentives to carriers to fly “unprofitable” routes, Saudi Arabia is now luring airlines by cutting airport charges by as much as 35 percent in its bid to compete with the world’s biggest airline hubs, most of which happen to be in the Middle East region.

Airport charges at three major airports — Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam — would be reduced by anywhere between 10 percent and 35 percent, Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation said. The decreased airport charges would be coming into force later this year.

To maximize growth, airports in the kingdom would be further allowed to reduce charges below the announced caps, the civil aviation authority announced at the Farnborough Air Show. 

In its pivot from oil to diversify into other sectors, Saudi Arabia is looking at tourism in a big way to bolster the country’s economy and then there’s the ambitious goal to attract 100 million tourists by 2030.

This development comes days after Saudi’s civil aviation authority also announced the decision to open the nation’s airspace to all commercial carriers that meet the country’s civil aviation authority’s overflying requirements.

Under the decision, Saudi airspace is now open to flights operated through Israel and by Israeli carriers, a decision which complements Saudi’s efforts to consolidate its position as a global hub. 

US President Joe Biden called the decision “the first tangible step in the path of what I hope will eventually be a broader normalization of relations.” 

Airlines

American Airlines Computer Glitch Temporarily Threatens 12,000 Flights

7 months ago

An American Airlines computer glitch threatened to cause more disruption for U.S. airports during the July 4 weekend.

A problem in the carrier’s system that enables pilots to add, drop, or trade routes briefly wiped out 12,000 flights scheduled to depart in July. American said in a statement on Saturday it was reinstating most of those flights, adding it didn’t expect the issue to impact its operations.

However, the Allied Pilots Association, the labor union that represents American’s pilots, said on Sunday that it’s discussing extra pay for pilots whose flights were mistakenly cancelled because of the glitch. The union also told pilots that adding those flights back to the pilots’ schedules violated its contract, but it would work with American to tackle the issue and find solutions to what it describes as an overwhelming scheduling system.

American and the APA are in process of negotiating a new contract, and the carrier offered its pilots a roughly 17 percent pay raise on July 30.

Courtesy: Aero Pixels, Wikimedia Commons

Airlines

Global Airlines Group Appoints First-Ever Female Chair

7 months ago

The International Air Transport Association‘s board of governors has appointed RwandAir CEO Yvonne Manzi Makolo to serve as its chair, making her the first woman ever to lead the global airline agency.

Makolo, who has led RwandAir since 2018, will serve a one-year term as IATA’s chair from June 2023, succeeding Mehmet Tevfik Nane, the managing director of discount Turkish carrier Pegasus. Nane took over the role of IATA chair from JetBlue Airways CEO Robin Hayes on June 20 during the organization’s annual general meeting.

Makolo is one of the few women holding a senior role at a major airline. IATA estimates that close to 9 percent of airline CEOs are women.

Yvonne Manzi Makolo

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