Winter 2022

issue 42

Cast your mind back to the start of the year. What were your expectations of 2022 at that time? What was your forecast for the year?
It seems fantastic to recall that many parts of the globe were effectively still closed to international travel in the first three months of 2022 as the Omicron variant of the corona virus proliferated. As we made our plans at this time last year, the hope was that a whole 12 months of international travel freedom were in sight.

It was possible to travel in the January-March period, but it was far from easy. It is easy, however, to forget just what a hassle it was to repeatedly test for Covid, complete complex forms and avoid busy places in anticipation of an overseas mission. I vividly recall the inconvenience of testing for Covid daily after visiting the Singapore Air Show in February, in order to be able to attend the next day.
Contrast this draconian experience with that found on entry to the USA in October to attend the Routes World forum in Las Vegas. The Covid requirements there? Zero.

Industry leaders expect further pandemic breakouts but stress the governmental response should not put a halt to travel again. And some regions are lagging, and still suffering because of it. Asia, and particularly China, has been slow to reopen. We deliberately focused a large chunk of our reporting in the 20-page ARGS report from Routes World on that region’s airports and tourism bodies to gauge the mood and pace of recovery.
All Asia-Pacific players told us that the slow return of China was holding them back. Speaking at the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines’ Assembly of Presidents in Bangkok in November, Conrad Clifford, IATA’s Deputy Director General, summed up the industry mood: “We must learn to live, travel and work with Covid-19. We hope the Chinese government will have the confidence to re-open its borders soon and connect with the world.”
China’s continued closure is one headwind holding the industry back. Others are Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the ongoing war there and the ripple effect that is having on the global economy. Energy prices are spiralling up and recessionary effects abound.
Despite these headwinds, the mood at Routes in Las Vegas was buoyant. For some it was their first overseas business trip for three years. The competitive edge was there for all to see as airports, tourism bodies and regions jostled for attention. It is all the sharper given that some airlines have capacity constraints, which for many will continue into 2023.
There are structural changes in our industry too. The latest US airline merger is the proposed acquisition of Spirit Airlines by JetBlue Airlines. Tony Harrington reports in this issue of the new-look Indian airline industry with Air India one of those undergoing something of a renaissance as new investors and owners seek to capitalise on a vibrant market.
Consolidation in the ground services industry is also underway. Kuwaiti firm National Aviation Services tied up with Menzies Aviation earlier this year, and in September Singapore’s SATS announced a deal to buy Worldwide Flight Services. We talked to SATS head Kerry Mok to understand the rationale behind the move in this issue. And do not expect these changes to be the last: many believe that more consolidation is well overdue in the ground services arena.
As we enter the final few weeks of the year, one of the most frequently heard comments at recently attended events concerns the resilience of the air transport sector.
It is true, we are resilient. And boy have we needed to be. Now, let’s get planning for 2023. Bring it on.

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Featured in this issue

  • AirAsia: more than an airline

    Muhammad Sharir, Network Planning Manager at the AirAsia Group, took to the exhibition stage to explain to Routes delegates how the structure of south-east Asia’s pioneering low-cost airline is evol...

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  • Allegiant and Viva forge new ties

    Typically, joint ventures between large legacy airlines aim at reducing costs for each player and boost their ability to capture connecting passengers, but the Allegiant and Viva Aerobus tie-up has a ...

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  • Allegiant breaks cover

    Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air is an airline with a difference. Its President John Redmond made a rare conference appearance at Routes World to discuss the travel company’s strategy and his outlook f...

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  • Atlantic Canada on the comeback trail

    One thing the pandemic highlighted in black and white, in many corners of the globe, is the key role air transport plays in connecting communities. No more so than in Canada’s beautiful but remote e...

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  • Avoidance tactics

    The Powerhouse Panel Lessons learned from the pandemic, moderated by ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira, was a major feature in the Routes World conference programme Avoiding the mi...

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  • Bahrain’s logistics dream

    Bahrain Airport Company (BAC) is going full steam ahead with a series of major infrastructure investments at the Gulf archipelago’s main hub, with an Express Cargo Village at the centre of plans to ...

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  • Changi sees the light

    “We are happy with today’s growth trajectory and can see light at the end of the tunnel,” Lim Ching Kiat, Managing Director Air Hub Development of Changi Airport Group, told ARGS at Routes. Alo...

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  • Dream job

    Kadri Samsunlu was in the middle of a major transaction in the early part of 2017 when he got a call out of the blue from one of the founders of iGA. For nearly nine years he had been Chief Financial ...

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  • Frontier’s lonesome mission

    Frontier Airlines is going it alone after a move to merge with Spirit Airlines was hijacked by JetBlue Airways. Chief Executive Barry Biffle was at Routes to outline its independent future. Mark Pilli...

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  • Hong Kong wants to be lucky again

    The list of infrastructure projects underway or planned at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) is impressive. There is a third runway under construction, the Airport City project to transform HKIA ...

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  • India’s new-look airline industry

    With new ownership, management and ambitious growth plans, India’s air transport industry is going through a remarkable transformation. Tony Harrington reports “Welcome to the new era” trum...

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  • Istanbul’s airport grand master

    iGA (Istanbul Grand Airport) is storming back from the pandemic with soaring passenger and cargo volumes and a leader determined his airport will be a shining representative of Turkey on the world avi...

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  • Jordan plots low-cost revival

    Prior to the pandemic Queen Alia International Airport (QAIA) was welcoming a new player to Jordan, bringing Ryanair to the country for the first time in a hard-won campaign to attract more leisure tr...

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  • KAC is ready to play

    The Korea Airports Corporation (KAC) stand at World Routes Las Vegas certainly grabbed delegates’ attention. The guards from the popular Netflix survival adventure show Squid Game processed around t...

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  • Pegasus happy to be flying high

    Turkish low-cost carrier Pegasus Airlines is positively galloping out of the Covid crisis with network and fleet expansion, and the long-awaited prospect of a major capacity boost at its Istanbul Sabi...

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  • Promoting the Philippines

    Bringing a touch of the Philippines, the archipelagic country of 7,641 islands in Southeast Asia, to the Routes show floor was the Department of Tourism and GMR Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation (GMCA...

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  • SATS lines up WFS

    Singapore’s premier ground services and food solutions player SATS is preparing a major move into cargo logistics with the acquisition of Worldwide Flight Services. Chief Executive Kerry Mok explain...

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  • Saudi’s big show

    Saudi Arabia’s Matarat Holding Company, a new name for many delegates at Routes, put down a strong statement of intent at the 2022 show. With a pair of large stands, a big delegation, traditional Sa...

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  • Thailand boxes clever

    Airports of Thailand (AOT) is pushing hard to accelerate a sluggish return to traffic normality at the country’s airports, with its presence in Las Vegas and the hosting of Routes Asia next year pri...

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  • Tokyo Narita open for business

    Just five days before Routes World opened its doors, Japan finally relaxed its strict travel rules, allowing travellers to easily enter the country for the first time since the start of the pandemic. ...

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  • Vienna seeks stability

    While his airport is one of many that have enjoyed a strong burst of summer traffic, Vienna International Airport’s (VIE) Joint Chief Executive and Chief Operating Officer Julian Jaeger warns that t...

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  • Viva Las Vegas

    Routes World was back with a bang in Las Vegas, as delegates attended the industry’s premier network planning event. Mark Pilling and Olivia Pilling report There really is only one headline for t...

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  • Western Sydney International – opportunity meets choice

    World Routes in Las Vegas was the first marketing mission for the Western Sydney International Airport (WSI) team to a route planning event outside of their homeland of Australia. Construction of Wes...

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  • Zurich steams in with intermodal story

    Florian Raff, the Head of Aviation Development and Statistics at Zurich Airport, was promoting Switzerland’s intermodal travel offering at the World Routes event in Las Vegas. Switzerland has a “w...

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