21 FEBRUARY 2022
© 2022 Business Travel News Ltd.
Last week the Singapore Air Show’s opening day featured senior industry leaders speaking at the Aviation CEO Forum, organised by FlightGlobal with partners Experia Events and CFM International.
During a wide-ranging panel debate, Chief Executive, Malaysia Airlines, Izham Ismail, the only participant speaking virtually, from Kuala Lumpur, said the carrier is “cautiously optimistic” about its prospects. He attributes a better-than-expected 2021 performance – the carrier was cash positive by October 2021 following a successful business restructuring – to a “yield-active focus”.
Leisure travel is expected to rebound first, followed by business and corporate travel, added Ismail.
The AirAsia group of carriers, meanwhile, expects growth from the second-half of 2023, with “plans to ramp up” by 2024. By end-2022, the group’s carriers – in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand – are expected to operate two-thirds of their fleet, said Chief Executive, AirAsia Aviation Group, Bo Lingam.
He also doubles down on the prospect of more AirAsia units in the region, hinting at two more airline joint-ventures to be announced within the year. Lingam and Ismail also called for a unified strategy among governments on reopening borders, given that the region has disparate rules and timelines on opening their borders.
Fellow panellist and Chairman of Australian carrier Regional Express, Lim Kim Hai, says a “meaningful size” for its jet operations – which it rolled out in 2021 – would be between 20 and 30 aircraft. Lim Kim Hai adds that the airline is aiming to take between six and ten jets a year.
Chief Executive of aircraft lessor Avolon, Domhnal Slattery, meanwhile is bullish about the Chinese market – still tightly shut amid strict pandemic restrictions – opening up.
Slattery says that when the international borders reopen, which he predicts will be in the third or fourth quarter of this year, demand will rebound “dramatically”.
Concurring, President, CFM International, Gael Meheust, is “convinced” that the pent-up demand to travel will lead to growth across the industry.
Still, Robert Martin, Chief Executive at lessor BOC Aviation, warns that airlines will have to “raise equity…to grow, going forward”. A failure to do so, says Martin, could set the industry back two to three years, especially in light of “potential headwinds” to come.
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