Autumn 2023

issue 45

If you want a quick sense check on the industry’s position and outlook, IATA’s Quarterly Air Transport Chartbook is a handy guide. The Q2 report dropped into the ARGS editor’s inbox as the team prepared this issue for press.
It makes positive reading. IATA’s assessment is that with global GDP growth defying most recessionist predictions this year – it is around 3.0% on an annual basis – coupled with astonishingly strong labour markets, mostly in advanced economies but also elsewhere, the state of the business cycle is in a relative sweet spot.

We all know that traffic is back. Globally, domestic passenger traffic achieved full recovery in Q2 2023, standing 4.5% above Q2 2019 levels, driven by the resilience of the main domestic markets and the strong rebound in China, said IATA. The recovery in international traffic maintained its course in Q2 2023 and total international RPKs reached 87.6% of Q2 2019.
IATA expects the total industry to reach the full-year 2019 level in 2024, although this leaves traffic well below pre-pandemic forecasts.

Airlines globally have been reporting record-breaking profits over the past few months. Most, as American Airlines CEO Robert Isom recently said, are “firing on all cylinders”. In this issue we examine how the US giant is profitably adding services to Europe (see p15).

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is making the headlines on the aviation front. Not only is flag carrier Saudia on a major expansion and product transformation journey (see p26), but the country is establishing an all-new, full-service flag carrier in Riyadh Air (see p32). This is a rare occurrence.

Saudi Arabia’s ambitions and targets for travel and tourism are staggering, and the investment being pumped into the Kingdom’s air transport infrastructure is too. Delegates at Routes World 2023 in Istanbul in October will be battling for meetings with both carriers to get a slice of the action. See the ARGS event preview on page 46.
In the ground services world, as we reach the beginning of September, the summer has gone well. However, recruitment for all players remains an issue and will be a constant focus for years to come, but most have coped.

It is a business that still attracts investment and Alliance Ground International Chief Executive Jared Azcuy tells ARGS why the US-based company is on a mission to expand beyond its large North American footprint (see p4).

For airports, traffic recovery is welcome but often takes longer (compared to airlines) to translate into profitability. In this issue, ARGS talks to the CEOs of a variety of airports to assess their recovery paths, diversification and sustainability strategies and investment in new facilities: Martin Roll of Hannover (see p20), and Nick Barton of Birmingham International in the UK (see p36).
Now our thoughts turn to the autumn events, budget forecasts for 2024 and the business outlook for the rest of this year and into next. The big recovery is over, and some form of business as usual will prevail.

But we all know the air transport industry is volatile and risks to further recovery abound, so no one is complacent. We look forward to hearing your views at Routes World in Istanbul and the 2nd Airport Services Association Leadership Forum, being held in association with ARGS in Greek capital Athens on 20-22 September.

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Featured in this issue

  • Service message

    A new association, Aviation Services UK, has been created to represent the UK’s ground services players. Its first Chief Executive David Leighton talks to ARGS about its formation and mission The...

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  • Saudia rising

    Saudia is pushing ahead with major network expansion and fleet investment as it seeks to play its part in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s hugely ambitious travel and tourism goals. Arcing water jet...

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  • Saudi Arabia’s new airline

    In early 2025 the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will welcome its second flag carrier: Riyadh Air. Former Etihad Airways CEO Tony Douglas is at the helm Riyadh Air is making a big noise. There have alread...

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  • RwandAir books WFS for Paris

    RwandAir has appointed WFS as its cargo handling partner in Paris and Swissport has formed a new joint venture at Düsseldorf Airport RwandAir, the flag carrier airline of Rwanda, has appointed Wor...

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  • New look Curaçao

    Curaçao International Airport has kicked off a new era with a new name and branding as it welcomes new service to the US, Brazil and Canada On 18 August speeches were delivered, music played, and ...

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  • Hannover’s culture hub

    Hannover Airport is developing a diversified business model that plays to its strengths and recognises its people as a critical element to success. New Chief Executive Martin Roll explains the plan to...

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  • Flyadeal: Saudia’s LCC subsidiary

    Saudi Arabia’s Flyadeal, the Kingdom’s largest low-cost carrier, aims to treble its fleet by 2030. From the 32 aircraft expected to be in service at the end of 2023, “By 2030 we plan to be a 10...

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  • Firing on all cylinders

    American Airlines is in bullish mood, buoyed by record earnings, being ahead of the game on updating its fleet, and launching a new wave of transatlantic routes in 2024 “The summer is well underw...

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  • Birmingham’s high-speed future

    Armed with surging traffic, a carbon strategy, a new labour deal and a future rail link to London, Nick Barton, Chief Executive Officer at Birmingham International Airport (BHX), holds a strong hand. ...

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  • AGI on the charge

    Miami-based Alliance Ground International (AGI) is on a growth mission as it expands from its cargo roots. It has made bold acquisitions, starting in the US and Canada, and is now looking further afie...

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