Association of Asia Pacific Airlines’ New Director General Calls for a Coordinated Approach in Restoring Air Travel
Subhas Menon, who succeeds Andrew Herdman as the new director general of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA), stated that it will take significant coordination and collaboration to restore global air travel.
“In order for the international traffic to pick up with a restart, we need to have a multilateral, harmonized, consistent, and coherent framework,” said Menon. He cited key factors of cross-border traffic and the different travel restrictions and bans imposed by various nations as “creating a labyrinth of travel restrictions and travel bans that we are working against.”
In Menon’s view, air travel will have to be restored first on domestic basis, next regionally and then, internationally.
Prior to his latest appointment with AAPA, Menon had a 35-year career at Singapore Airlines.
Delta Air Lines CEO Discusses State of the Airline and Industry with CNBC’s Squawk on the Street
In a forthright interview with CNBC’s Phil LeBeau and colleagues on “Squawk on the Street,” Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian shared his thoughts on the airline’s current status. Bastian started the April 22, 2020 interview by thanking the 90,000 employees of Delta, noting that the airline lost some of its own “Delta family” members to the virus. He stated that Delta was operating at less than 5% of a normal passenger load with approximately 30,000 passengers on its books, who are primarily essential workers including health care professionals and individuals transporting personal protection equipment (PPE) to the frontline of the battle against the Coronavirus. He stated that he believed that over the short-term, passengers will continue to be the essential workers.
Bastian also noted that the airline has “doubled down and in fact, tripled down on sanitation, hygiene, cleanliness, making certain every aircraft we’re on is fogged every day.” He cited social distancing practices are in force and boarding is being conducted from the back first to ensure people are not walking past other passengers. Also noted by Bastian was Delta’s “enlisting the best medical advisers to make certain that we have insight into everything from the diagnostics and the testing protocols.”
As for looking ahead, Bastian said “We want for the future, to accelerate into the future not to rebuild what we had in the past. And, it will create some interesting opportunities for us. Delta is known for quality. That’s our hallmark, that’s our calling card…we’ll do whatever we need to do to re-inspire confidence in business travel, as well as leisure travel going forward.”
Cheap Air Travel and Aircraft Seat Configurations Post COVID-19
Passengers have often complained about tight seat configurations making flights uncomfortable. They also came to expect lower airfares associated with full planes. With social distancing mandates in place to protect against COVID-19 infections, both tight seat configurations and low airfares may be a thing of the past. Here’s how some industry leaders are addressing the situation which remains highly fluid:
- In its April 21 briefing, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) noted that removing the middle seat on narrow-body aircraft would result in a load factor of approximately 66%. Airlines would have to increase their ticket prices by 50% on short-haul flights to stay profitable. Alexandre de Juniac, director general of IATA thinks this will bring an end to “cheap flights.”
- Ryanair’s CEO Michael O’Leary said in a recent interview with the Financial Times, “We can’t make money on 66 percent load factors,” and noted that removing the middle seat would be ineffective. This is because social distancing rules require that six feet of space exists between individuals.
- To maintain social distancing on its aircraft, Delta Airlines is boarding ten passengers at a time and blocking middle seats. It also has suspended all automatic upgrades in order to assign seats in accordance with social distancing rules.