Industry insights from yesterday’s interviews and event agenda at the IATA AGM

The CAPA – Centre for Aviation and The Blue Swan Daily content teams have been busy attending media conferences, interviewing senior aviation officials and discussing industry insights with delegates at the International Air Transport Association (IATA) 74th Annual General Meeting (AGM) and World Air Transport Summit (WATS).

Here’s just some of the around 200 news briefs produced at the event  in Sydney, Australia yesterday and which are all available to CAPA members on the CAPA – Centre for Aviation news portal.

Vietnam Airlines to wet lease regional jets as ‘test’ prior to acquisition
Vietnam Airlines CEO Duong Tri Thanh revealed to CAPA the airline plans to wet lease regional jets in summer 2018 as part of a trial in its ongoing evaluation of regional jets. Mr Thanh said the airline plans to wet lease at least two regional jets manufactured by Bombardier, Embraer or potentially others in summer 2018. The wet lease will provide interim capacity to partially compensate for capacity lost by the A321neo delivery delays. Mr Thanh said the wet lease will also be used as a “test” in its evaluation of new regional jets and plans to initially order five to seven regional jets.

Thai Airways considers introducing premium economy
Thai Airways VP for alliances and commercial Krittaphon Chantalitanon told CAPA the airline is considering introducing a premium economy product. If Thai decides at the conclusion of the study to proceed with premium economy the new product could potentially debut on an experimental basis on six retrofitted Boeing 777-200ERs. Thai would also include the new premium economy product, if launched, on new future widebody aircraft it plans to order but for now there are no plans to retrofit the 777-300ER or 787 fleets.

KLM CEO: AI offers opportunity to adjust internal operating procedures, address disruptions
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines president and CEO Pieter Elbers said artificial intelligence (AI) is particularly applicable in the case of disruptions. Mr Elbers said AI can enable an airline or airport to address the situation “rather than learning every time again” on how to resolve the issue. He reiterated AI “really provides a good opportunity to adjust… internal procedures” and “help us do something we haven’t achieved so far”.

Emirates: There will be casualties from higher oil prices
Emirates president Sir Tim Clark said there “will be casualties from increasing oil prices”, but the industry has become “more slick” about the way it goes about managing costs since the last increase in oil prices.

Air Canada rouge is ‘similar but not identical’ to Qantas-Jetstar relationship
Air Canada president and CEO Calin Rovinesc, said Air Canada rouge is “similar but not identical” to the Qantas-Jetstar relationship. “There is definitely not one size fits all”, Mr Rovinescu said. He noted that there are similar models globally, but there are different dynamics at different airlines and geographies.

KLM-BCG JV product swaps crew, aircraft and slot allocation 112 times in just six minutes
Boston Consulting Group (BCG) partner and topic leader for airline operations Dirk-Maarten Molenaar reported on a single test day with KLM and BCG’s new set of artificial intelligence prediction tools. At Amsterdam Schiphol Airport with 15% less runway capacity due to weather, Mr Molenaar said the tools managed to reduce disruption by more than 50%, with 112 crew, aircraft and slot swaps taking place within six minutes.

Cathay Pacific has ‘grown up with Hong Kong’, ‘big part of Hong Kong’s ethos’
Cathay Pacific Airways CEO Rupert Hogg said the carrier has “grown up with Hong Kong” and is a “big part of Hong Kong’s ethos”. He noted the carrier’s important role in connectivity and the global nature of the Cathay Pacific brand, which is a “source of pride” for the local population. He added that “connectivity with our home base city” is important”.

Emirates 787s to be ‘gap fillers’ between flydubai and Emirates fleets
Emirates president Sir Tim Clark told CAPA TV that the airline’s Boeing 787-9 and 787-10 aircraft, due for delivery from around 2022, will be “the gap fillers” between flydubai’s 737s and Emirates’ 777s and A380s. Sir Tim said the 787s “will be doing a lot more of the regional work alongside, perhaps, flydubai” and added: “I can see growth in that particular segment”.

Air New Zealand: Airlines need to avoid applying a ‘digital veneer’ on existing processes
Air New Zealand CEO Christopher Luxon said airlines put themselves in a “power of trouble” if the lose control of their customer data and trust. Mr Luxon said data and digitalisation offer the ability to transform the passenger experience, simplify the business of operating an airline and eliminate pain points. However, he noted that the risk is that airlines fail to change their underlying processes and methodologies, and instead just apply a “digital veneer” on their existing processes.

SaudiGulf president and CEO: Five carriers in domestic market ‘is a little too many’
SaudiGulf Airlines president and CEO Samer Majali, told CAPA TV that five carriers operating in the Saudi Arabian domestic market “is a little too many”, noting “it has had a negative impact on yields.” Mr Majali added “we hope there will be some sort of consolidation or some kind of rationisation in the future.”

IATA: Airlines must deliver a holistic approach to identifying human trafficking
IATA assistant director government and external affairs Tim Colehan commented on the importance of creating “a holistic approach that delivers” in relation to human trafficking. The approach involves collaboration with law enforcement agencies and stakeholders to identify incidents of coercion and minimise of misidentifying incidents of human trafficking. Mr Colehan added “there will be occasions when airlines do get it wrong” and the importance for airlines to train staff comprehensively.