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AVIATION OUTLOOK


N WORDS NICK EASEN buyingbusinesstravel.com


EWTON’S THIRD LAW STATES that for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction. Looking at a range of upcoming trends in the aviation sector, buyers should start planning for consequences sooner than later.


From aircraft manufacturing issues and


carbon emissions to airline retailing strat- egies, new routes and airport openings, the landscape has never been so complex. While one positive about managing air


spend is that it doesn’t leak out-of-policy money quite like hotel programmes do, travel buyers’ savings on air programmes will not be as easy to come by this year and next. “The incremental savings gain on air


spend was one to two percent each year, now this is dropping to 0.5 per cent in some cases. Achieving savings is a real challenge; man- agers must now really optimise and leverage their budgets,” explains Olivier Benoit, global air practice leader at Advito.


TIMING IS EVERYTHING It’s a sellers’ market right now, and tickets are far from keenly priced. “The UK is one of the most dynamic and challenging marketplaces globally,” states Jon Danks, head of UK and Ireland marketing at South African Airways. Two strategies go a long way looking ahead into 2020: first, book early. An alphabet soup of seat classes get sucked up as executives


delay in booking a trip,and this hits budgets. Before you can say open sesame, you’re left with fare code F, and that just kicks off an expletive. Code F, of course, is for the full- fare, first-class ticket you’re having to pay for, since there’s now little room on the plane. Booking early isn’t a new mantra, but with high load factors today, it makes more economic sense than ever before. “We’re seeing a shift now with carriers closing cheaper classes earlier. Don’t think 21 days in advance, you need to start booking 23 or 24 days before you travel to get the really good savings,” stresses Benoit.


Buyers can use automated online tools to help encourage early bookings, but educating travellers on this can’t be stressed enough.


KNOW YOUR DATA


Second, with little slack in the market, and if you’re experiencing analysis paralysis, the next step is ensuring you have a clear, global view on all your air spend. “Data and visibil- ity on spend are now vital when negotiating with airlines,” says Jeremy Quek, principal, air practice line lead, global business con- sulting at American Express GBT. “Compliance is also king,” says Jo-Anne Lloyd, partner at Nina & Pinta. “The better a corporation can demonstrate their ability to support an air programme, the more likely they are to get a better deal.”


Consolidated data certainly gives buyers leverage, which they need if they are to


2019 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 83


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