Brands do matter, ‘engineered’ consolidation in China, and how the travel space is ‘always going crisis to crisis’ – insights from CAPA Airline Leader Summit

The CAPA – Centre for Aviation Airline Leader Summit 2018 took place in Dublin, Republic of Ireland last week bringing together some of the biggest names in aviation to discuss the latest developments in the global industry.

It’s hardly a secret that the airline industry is facing myriad challenges, notably in the marketing and distribution areas, as companies with personalised data, and the analytics and artificial intelligence to go with it, become greater threats to the stability of the traditional airline model. As such, the main summit focus this year was “Airlines making money: a vision of the future”, with the underlying theme of disruption and change.

Here’s some of the initial insights and observations from delegates during the event at the Powerscourt Resort & Spa in County Wicklow…

Social Data Lab: Data generated daily globally is larger than all data generated up to year 2000
Social Data Lab director Andreas Weigend said the amount of data generated globally in a single day is now larger than all data generated up until the year 2000. Mr Weigend said with the EU General Data Protection Regulation entering effect on 25-May-2018, uncertainty remains around the rights of consumers in relation to data.

Mezi: People ‘have a need for conversation when they search for travel’
Mezi VP travel strategy and partnerships Johnny Thorsen said out of the over 50 million words/phrases in the Mezi.com AI database, the 34th most popular is ‘thank you’ and the 44th most popular is ‘sorry’. Mr Thorsen believes people “have a need for conversation when they search for travel”.

Amazon Web Services: Travel space ‘always going crisis to crisis’
Amazon Web Services (AWS) head of worldwide business development – travel, transportation and logistics Massimo Morin said the travel space has its “troughs and peaks”. Mr Morin described the industry as “always going crisis to crisis”. Adding to this, while tech companies keep appearing and advancing, travel is “always behind”.

Amedeo CEO: A380 ‘becomes the lowest cost aircraft to operate’ when configured for efficiency
Amedeo CEO Mark Lapidus said once configured for efficiency, the A380 “becomes the lowest cost aircraft to operate”. He adds brands are very important to the airline business and enable carriers to better position themselves to certain customer bases. He cited Peach as an example, stating if All Nippon Airways aimed to target only Peach’s customer segment under a non differentiated brand “it would fail”.

Air China: Consolidation was ‘engineered’ in China, new airlines still ‘popping up’ on monthly basis
Air China VP and GM North America Zhihang Chi said consolidation has been “engineered” in China with four main groups, emulating the US. Mr Chi however said new airlines are “popping up almost on a monthly basis”. Mr Chi said: “If a government official wants to get promoted… it’s a great achievement on his/her part”, adding its “sexy to have an airline for each city or province”.

Aviation Strategy & Concepts MD: The ‘right mindset’ for data processing ‘hasn’t caught on’
Aviation Strategy & Concepts MD Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus said the “right mindset” for data processing “hasn’t really caught on” in the airline industry. Mr Schulte-Strathaus said while some airlines have “picked up” data processing, the industry overall is a “work in progress”. Mr Schulte-Strathaus believes the industry will next see development from “data pilots”.

IAG CEO: ‘Brands do matter’
IAG CEO Willie Walsh said IAG research finds that “brands do matter” to what customers choose to consume. Mr Walsh stated the creation of IAG as an airline grouping structure subsequently formed a vehicle to operate effectively with multiple brands, allowing a variety of product propositions.

CAPA: Jet fuel price hike likely to add USD38bn in airlines costs in 2018
CAPA – Centre for Aviation executive chairman Peter Harbison said jet fuel for the week commencing 15-May-2018 is 50% higher year-on-year. Mr Harbison stated the implications of a higher fuel bill leave airlines under “considerably different circumstances” in 2018. Mr Harbison envisages an average of USD83 per barrel to impact fuel bills globally by around USD38 billion, compared to the industry profit of USD34.5 billion in 2017.

Pittsburgh International Airport CEO interested in reframing traditional airline/airport partnership
Pittsburgh International Airport CEO Christina Cassotis said the airport is “very interested in reframing” the traditional airline/airport partnership model. Ms Cassotis noted airlines and airports are “often at loggerheads with each other… but we’re trying to show up as a partner in a different way”. Ms Cassotis stated the airport aims to “to figure out how can we serve our community that brings value to the carriers”.

Ireland ready for ‘every eventuality’ emanating from Brexit: Transport Minister
Ireland’s Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross said the EU “now has a role” in all aspects of aviation, but Brexit “impinges on every aspect”. Mr Ross stated when Brexit comes “it can be gloomy or optimistic”, but Ireland is ready for “every eventuality”. The challenges faced due to Brexit are “unprecedented”. Mr Ross stated the impact will be felt by “all modes of transport”, however challenges for the aviation sector are “unique”.

Dublin Airport continues to be a ‘crossroads between Europe and the Americas’: MD
Dublin Airport MD Vincent Harrison said the airport continues to work to be a “crossroads between Europe and the Americas”. Dublin Airport is the sixth largest airport for North Atlantic connectivity, with routes to 20 north American cities more than 130 destinations in Europe. Mr Harrison cited Dublin’s geographic location as a key competitive advantage, while noting Dublin Airport is the only European capital city airport with US pre-clearance.

Ryanair expecting travel retailers to dominate aviation industry by 2030
Ryanair chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs said by 2030, global travel retailers will emerge and “dominate” the industry. Mr Jacobs describes Ryanair as a global travel retailer centred on an airline.

IATA NDC Leaderboard to add at least one more airline next week: Travelport
Travelport global head of product and marketing air commerce Ian Heywood said the IATA ‘NDC Leaderboard’, which comprises 20 airlines, will soon be expanded with “at least one more airline… next week”.

Mezi VP: Social data revolution ‘about to’ hit travel sector
Mezi VP travel strategy and partnerships Johnny Thorsen said the social data revolution “hasn’t hit travel yet” though “it’s about to”. Mr Thorsen believes getting new insight in people’s behaviour is the way forward. He cited an example in “knowing passengers on the plane”, including their tendencies and preferences instead of just their name.

CAPA – Centre for Aviation members were able to see live updates from the CAPA Airline Leader Summit and have access to over 100 briefs from the event. Find out more about how a CAPA membership provides a front row seat to global aviation news, analysis and data as it happens, with access to a comprehensive suite of tools that can be customised to your needs. 

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