SUMMIT REPORT Leading figures from the aviation and supplier sectors reveal their outlooks for the

Lundgren fears UK aviation will suffer without support


he risk of failures is growing, even “well-run businesses won’t make it” and the UK travel sector’s

global position is threatened. That is the view of easyJet chief

executive Johan Lundgren who issued a stark warning as he delivered the keynote address at the start of Travel Weekly’s Future of Travel summit this week. Lundgren said: “EasyJet is in

a privileged position because we came into this in a strong position, but there is no guarantee that will last for ever. We need to look at any options available for us to preserve cash and get access to more liquidity.” He warned: “There will be well-

run businesses which simply won’t make it. I can’t see it any other way.

“But the solution is not only to

take on debt. You could easily see big companies survive but have no funds to invest in sustainability [or to] invest to compete with rivals which have received support from foreign governments, which means the UK industry will lag behind.” Lundgren insisted: “I maintain

the view that the government should not interfere, [but] that is not what is taking place in the rest of Europe. The UK industry could find itself tremendously disadvantaged.” The German government has

made €9 billion in credit available to Lufthansa and the French government provided €7 billion to Air France, with the Dutch, Swiss, Spanish and Italian governments also making funds available to airlines.

EasyJet chief adamant ‘travel is going to come back and grow’

Travel will return to its previous level without “a shadow of doubt”, easyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren has insisted. Speaking on a Future of Travel webcast, Lundgren said: “People

want to travel. We see that when travel restrictions are removed, particularly for holidays but it is also the case for business travel. It’s an unbeatable proposition to be in the same room as somebody. “There is not a shadow of doubt in my mind that we’re going to

get back to the levels we had before.” He said: “There will be a point when this has been solved, one

way or the other, with a vaccine or testing or the pandemic has subsided or gone. It’s not even a question in my mind that travel is going to come back and grow. The question is when and what shape it’s going to be. “There is underlying demand for travel, for people to meet. The

world is a better place with connectivity and that will not change. “There were changes to travel after 9/11, but did that scare

people off travelling? We will adapt to go on holiday, to visit friends and family and to make business meetings that are essential.”

Lundgren said: “The UK industry

as we have known it, which provided one of the best environments for customers in the world, could be something of the past unless the government starts supporting it. “Measures introduced elsewhere

to support the industry, we haven’t seen yet. The furlough scheme ends in October, whereas furlough schemes in most other major European markets continue through the winter.” He said: “The UK came late

to the party on this whole thing. Aviation contributes close to 3.5% of GDP. You can’t just ignore that. Lundgren added: “One of the

arguments for Brexit was to take deci- sions that would benefit the UK. This is the opportunity to take decisions that mean the UK will be better off.”

Aviation leaders berate quarantine

Aviation leaders expressed frustration at the government’s failure to relax blanket quarantine restrictions on most travel destinations despite criticism from all sides. Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, accused the

government of failing to understand “the scale and the urgency of the challenges we face” in the industry. Speaking on a Travel Weekly Future of Travel webcast, Dee said: “We’re pretty disappointed with where we’ve got to. There were a lot of promising signals in the early stages [of the crisis]. The government said it was considering a sector-specific deal [for aviation] and we made good progress on health measures. The Job Retention Scheme has been really helpful. But beyond that there is a real failure by government to understand the scale and the urgency of the challenges we face because of quarantine.” Dale Keller, chief executive of the Board of

Karen Dee

Airline Representatives, said: “The government’s lack of decision-making is pulling us back. We’re falling behind when we should be taking a lead. Iata UK country manager Simon McNamara

insisted: “We’re not just disappointed, we’re frustrated. The numbers show we’re going backwards. When Spain was removed from the travel corridors list, we saw bookings through Iata’s systems drop 10% overnight.”

10 17 SEPTEMBER 2020 Johan Lundgren

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