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BUSINESS NEWS COMMENT


Could travel quotas be imposed to curb curse of overcapacity?


An excess of flights is forcing as all to sell at ridiculous prices and is damaging the environment, argues Sunvil chairman Noel Josephides


Tui’s Fritz Joussen’s warning of overcapacity in the airline industry won’t have come as a surprise to anyone (Travel Weekly, August 23). Te only surprise is that such a comment


was not made years ago. It has been painfully obvious to us all that airline capacity is out of control and that this has hurt the whole travel industry. Te travelling public, on the other hand, has never had it so good. According to Joussen, the answer is a need


for consolidation. But who, exactly, is going to consolidate with whom? Michael O’Leary is once again warning


that there will be failures – but exactly which airline/s is/are going to fail? Will it be British Airways, easyJet, Luſthansa, KLM – or even Ryanair? Any such scenario is unlikely, and the failure of a minnow will make no difference. Te target of O’Leary has seemingly been


Norwegian, but it now appears to be geting its house in order.


Failure and greed If an airline fails, will greed take over, with other carriers immediately replacing the lost capacity as they all rushed to do when Air Berlin failed? In the nearly 50 years I have been in the


travel industry, I have never known of a failure, either of an airline or a tour operator, where capacity was not immediately replicated – or, more commonly, exceeded – by competitors hoping to gain an advantage. Tere was a time when low-cost carriers


Airlines’ ridiculously low fares have helped to create the problem of overtourism


sold their capacity cheaply to start with and then charged more for late bookings. Tat has all but disappeared. Tere is now so much to sell that it’s geting to be cheap all the time, except for bank holidays, when prices are astronomical.


Cheap fares Many airlines boast about their high load factors, but this is meaningless. Te entire airline and tour operating industries need high load factors because, for a lot of the time, we are all being forced to sell at ridiculous prices due to gross overcapacity. Joussen is right when he says: “Is a €19 fare


to Majorca a good thing? No, it is not.” He then goes on to say: “We will see different prices if the number of aircraſt is reduced.” Well, who is going to reduce prices when


there are so many hundreds of aircraſt on order? Te current situation is bad for all of us. It is bad for the environment. It is bad because squeezing the maximum possible number of seats on to aircraſt makes flying so uncomfortable for our clients. (Ever flown on a high-density A320neo? It’s quite ghastly). Forget all the talk about carbon offseting


and the use of more-efficient, less-polluting aircraſt. It’s overcapacity that is killing us all and the environment and, unfortunately, the airline industry seems incapable of doing anything about it except talk. Airlines’ ridiculously low fares have


helped to create not only the so-called sharing economy and the totally unregulated Airbnb, but also the problem of overtourism. Only government regulation can halt what


is happening. I wonder, as global warning spreads panic, whether travel quotas will come to haunt us?


travelweekly.co.uk


5 SEPTEMBER 2019


95


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