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Article from BTNews 6 DECEMBER 2021

World Aviation Festival Part 1 *

The biggest news of the two-day event last week was the quiet announcement that Amsterdam is to be the venue for 2022, at the RAI in October.

Kicking off the live show David Neeleman, the serial airline inventor said he did not expect his latest start-up,Breeze Airways, to cross the Atlantic.  “I’ve more than enough to do”.  He was followed on stage by his friend Robin Hayes, now the CEO of Neeleman’s first airline JetBlue.  No actual figures from Hayes on Gatwick and Heathrow but plenty on the airline’s ethos.
Established in 2003, and it seems just for once only it took place at ExCeL London last Wednesday and Thursday, and was described by one regular as “slow”.  Sad to say the hall was rather lost in the empty massive enterprise.  

With the announcement the day before of a £1.27m loss you would have thought easyJet Chief Executive Johan Lundgren would be in a sombre mood.  Not so.  He told the 200 strong audience that: “Business travel is already coming back – for us, I think, more than for others.

“SMEs are coming back much quicker than large corporates because they don’t have the same restrictions on travel as large corporates have.”

He struck an optimistic note: “Business travel will go back to the levels of 2019 and then grow. Remember, after the global financial crisis there was the debate that business travel would never come back. It took two years.

Former British Airways Chief Executive Alex Cruz is keen to be seen around and agreed with the confident appraisal: “Business travel will recover. The permanent impact on business travel won’t be Covid related, it will be sustainability related.”

Virgin Atlantic Chief Executive Shai Weiss was also positive:   “The forecast is business travel will return by 2023. But it is not clear to any of us because every time we think we know what will happen, something else happens.”

Martin Gauss, Chief Executive of regional carrier Air Baltic, and a regular at the show, made the point that the private high value passengers are making up the front-end traffic. “We are 30% down on total passengers, but in Business Class we are only 15% down. It’s not the corporates it’s other people who want the comfort of business class.” 

Also see World Aviation Festival Part 2 in this week's BTN.


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All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum

Phil Foster, Southport

The World Aviation Festival is making a big mistake by moving the Amsterdam. This years event was not a networking success for me and ExCel is a problem. I was looking forward to trying the Elizabeth Line.