So the autumn leaves are falling and WTM 2016 is finally with us. Just as the seasons turn so the landscape for this year’s airline guests is changing too.
The UK Government has finally given the go ahead for a third runway at Heathrow, something which all 3 of our airline speakers will welcome. It’s still only the first step in a long process so don’t expect to see any new capacity in place for at least 10 years. .. and that’s if things go smoothly!
However, IAG CEO Willie Walsh, has been clear that he is not prepared to pay higher charges for the building and use of the runway. IAG airline British Airways is Heathrow’s largest operator. There are certain to be some sparks on this subject between the airport and its airline customers and we’ll touch on this in our interview, I’m sure.
There are lots of other things to discuss with my airline guests too. Sir Tim Clark, President of Emirates, recently encouraged people to buy tickets now while prices are so good. The market is ultra competitive right now on the back of low oil prices. I’ll talk with him on some of the challenges he’s wrestling with currently along with future plans to digitalise the airline and the possibility of introducing a premium economy class.
I’ll be diving deep into Finnair’s successful Asia strategy with CEO Pekka Vauramo. It continues to perform well despite Chinese economic slowdown and Japanese stagnation. Maybe some lessons about the Asian tourism market, seen as a potential saviour for Europe? I’m also expecting him to enthuse about his new state of the art Airbus A350’s which have now been in service for a year. He may, on the other hand, express frustration at the late deliveries these aircraft are experiencing which is causing some headaches.
Back to Willie Walsh and his successful IAG portfolio of airlines. So many things to put to him and so little time. The group is delivering strong profits and paying shareholders a dividend while navigating numerous challenges from currency volatility and weak UK business traffic in a post Brexit world.
Plenty to keep us busy in the airline sessions. I’m looking forward to it and hope you’ll join us!