Weekly wrap – 10th December 2022

BRUCE PIPER revisits another huge week of travel and cruise industry news.

Hi everyone, well can you believe it’s just two weeks until Christmas! You’d think things might be winding down, but the news just keeps coming.

One of the key themes that emerged was multiple requests for collaboration between airlines – perhaps hoping to eke out some competitive advantages while they can still claim they are in recovery from the pandemic, despite currently making windfall profits. Qantas has a number of applications in play – one with Emirates, one with China Eastern and one with other Jetstar carriers in the Asia-Pacific region, including in some circumstances with Japan Airlines. Qatar Airways and British Airways are also seeking the renewal and extension of an existing approval, with all of the carriers seeking exemption from competition regulations and claiming significant public benefits as a result.

It’s also been a big week for industry appointments, including the welcome return of the highly respected Sue Graham to the industry, in a senior global product role with Flight Centre’s rapidly growing Independent division. Graham has held a host of senior positions in the industry, most recently as Head of Airline Contracting at Helloworld Limited but prior to that as GM Supplier Partnerships at CT Partners and similar roles at Jetset Travelworld Group and its predecessors Stella Travel Services and Travelscene American Express. There was also the surprise announcement that Gillian Seller is joining MSC Cruises’ new luxury offshoot Explora Journeys as sales manager for Australia and New Zealand. Seller was previously with Regent Seven Seas Cruises, but she had been notably absent from several recent high profile Regent events.

On the global stage we saw Andrew Bowman from the Travel Agents Association of New Zealand (TAANZ) named as the new President of the World Travel Agents Associations Alliance (WTAAA), a role formerly held by two former AFTA CEOs, Jayson Westbury and Mike Hatton. AFTA’s current CEO Dean Long wasn’t at the meeting where Bowman took up his new role, instead being closely engaged with the powers that be in Canberra on a range of issues including the rapidly changing vocational education and training sector in Australia.

We also saw IATA announce its new Modern Airline Retailing program – bemusing much of the industry which over the last decade or more has endured scores of announcements about the huge advances we can expect from the evolving technological landscape including the New Distribution Capability. There’s no doubt the industry sees the need to update processes, but the glacial pace of NDC’s global adoption doesn’t provide much of a track record to give confidence that this will happen any time soon.

The cruise industry continues its recovery – although it also still has an undeniable ability to generate click-bait negative headlines. Just yesterday the arrival of Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Eclipse into Sydney – allegedly “riddled” with thousands of cases of COVID-19 – generated talkback radio sensation, before someone got their calculator out and figured that the numbers reported in initial stories were completely incorrect. But despite the negativity, the recent Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales apparently generated new records for many cruise lines which is great news for the whole sector. It was also great to see Cruise 360 announced for 2023 and finally heading to Brisbane for the first time.

Finally in a busy week for pre-Christmas events, we were thrilled to host the Still, Still Standing Celebration in Sydney this week. Almost 300 people from across the industry enjoyed the opportunity to network and celebrate survival, with representatives from airlines, tour operators, wholesalers, travel advisors and government organisations all making the most of a great night. It was also so great to be able to recognise some of the unsung heroes of the pandemic in the first ever Travel Daily Editors’ Choice Awards.

After all that, I need a good lie down – but first I have to duck out and pick up a Christmas tree that I have on order – because the festive spirit is definitely alive and well in our home!

Have a great weekend


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