WTM London 2023 Aviation Session at Discover Stage
A key aviation session at World Travel Market London – the world’s most influential travel & tourism event – heard how established and new airlines are working towards a more sustainable future and developing new technology.
Dom Kennedy, SVP Revenue Management, Distribution and Holidays, at Virgin Atlantic, highlighted how the carrier is on track to operate a transatlantic flight at the end of this month.
“It is a milestone in the UK industry,” he said.
He also told delegates how Virgin Atlantic sees the world “differently” with its diversity and inclusion policies, adding: “A fundamental part of that is making sure our people can be who they really are – we changed our uniform policy and relaxed the policy on tattoos.”
Simon McNamara, Director of Government and Industry Affairs at Heart Aerospace, explained how the Swedish start-up is developing 30-seater electric powered aircraft for regional routes of up to 200km.
Its aircraft are expected to enter service in 2028 and the aim is to boost regional connectivity where many routes have been lost.
James Asquith, founder of Global Atlantic, told delegates how he has bought double-decker A380 aircraft, giving them a “new lease of life” with his start-up airline.
“It is a palace of the sky [and] it has to be on time and reliable,” he said.
“What we are doing is not necessarily innovative but we’re almost rolling back the clock.
“We are very confident that we have done it in the right way.”
He said money has come from investors, shareholders, venture capitalists and family – but would not commit to a planned start date or airports from which he hopes to fly.
However, he added: “There will be planes in the sky sooner than people may think.”
Vincente Coste, Chief Commercial Officer, Riyadh Air, said his start-up airline aims to begin flying in the second quarter of 2025.
It is a part of Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia’s push to develop different parts of its economy, including tourism.
He said the carrier is working closely with established carrier Saudia, adding: “There is definitely space for two national airlines.”
Coste also highlighted a focus on developing technology to sell tickets via mobiles as the average age of the population is 29 and there is a high penetration of iPhones.
The session was moderated by John Strickland, Director at JLS Consulting.