THE industry was subject to plenty of chops and changes this week, including major moves by big names in aviation. Long-time Qatar chief Akbar Al Baker announced his departure, handing the reigns to Hamad International Airport Chief Operating Officer Badr Mohammed Al Meer. Qantas revealed another raft of leadership changes, including the appointment of Rachel Yangoyan to head up its regional and charter business, QantasLink, following current CEO John Gissing’s decision to retire next month.
The Flying Kangaroo also shuffled its Executive Manager of Global Sales and Distribution, Igor Kwiatkowski, to a new role in its freight division, and on the same day confirmed it is pulling the pin on plans to extend a cooperative agreement with China Eastern Airlines following competition concerns voiced by the ACCC over the deal.
In more positive news for the Aussie carrier, it announced a new non-stop twice-weekly service between Sydney and Port Moresby, along with several other tweaks to its international network that will see it boost capacity to Hawaii and resume flights to Shanghai for the first time since the pandemic.
Qantas will also begin outsourcing some of its flights between Sydney and Singapore to its oneworld partner Finnair this weekend, with the Finland flag carrier to also operate all QF services between Sydney and Bangkok from March next year. Meanwhile, Vietnamese carrier Bamboo Airways is pulling back from the Aussie market, revealing a restructure that will see it shut down its Australian office and scrap all its long-haul flights.
There has been plenty happening in the world of cruise as well, particularly as excitement builds for the industry’s big awards night after Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) opened nominations for the 21st Cruise Industry Awards at the beginning of the week. The following day, key industry figures gathered to celebrate the arrival of Royal Princess in Sydney, kicking off a bumper season Down Under for Princess Cruises, and marking the brand’s biggest-ever Australasian deployment.
In another win for the Aussie cruise sector, Ponant announced its new luxury vessel, Paspaley Pearl, will offer sailings in the Kimberley when she debuts in June 2024 – making her the region’s first boutique expedition motor yacht. It was a good news week for Royal Caribbean Group, who shared that its bookings continue to surge above pre-pandemic levels, with the company posting a US$1 billion for the first quarter of FY24.
The sector overall saw some major resignations and appointments, including Steve Richards taking on the newly created role of Managing Director, Australia and New Zealand for AmaWaterways as the California-based river cruise company enters the local market. Meanwhile, Cindy D’Aoust handed in her resignation at American Queen Voyages, after leading the cruise line as its President for the past year.
As that brings us up to speed on the travel industry’s goings-on this past week, I’ll be signing off to enjoy the last weekend of spooky season!