GOOD morning everyone, and welcome to a new financial year, which coincidentally is also exactly 19 years since Jenny and I purchased Travel Daily from its founder Mike Heard. At that stage the newsletter was almost a decade old, with the first issue on 4th July 1994 meaning that next Tuesday we will celebrate the publication’s 29th birthday – not a bad milestone!
And so to the news of the week. Much industry commentary has been devoted to the consequences of Helloworld Travel Limited’s $70 million acquisition of Express Travel Group (ETG), which was the subject of our feature article on Wednesday. While the dealmakers have made pains to stress that it will be “business as usual” at ETG and HLO, initial indications are certainly to the contrary. Aeronology’s previously high-profile consolidation deal with ETG is no longer in place effective from this morning; The Travel Junction’s preferred agreement with ETG has also been torn up; and on the HLO side the respected Alexandra Pisker, appointed late last year to head up the critical Air Tickets business, is suddenly no longer with the company.
It was also a huge week of staff moves, starting with the new senior leadership team at Qantas under CEO-designate Vanessa Hudson. Markus Svensson is the new CEO of Qantas Domestic, taking over from Andrew David, while Catriona Laritt will become Chief Customer and Digital Officer. Replacing Hudson as Chief Financial Officer is Rob Marcolina, and the structure includes a yet-to-be-named Chief People Officer and a new Chief Risk Officer role which will be filled by Andrew Monaghan. John Gissing, long-time CEO of QantasLink will retire in November with a search under way for his successor, while others on the Qantas Group Management Committee include International CEO Cam Wallace, Loyalty CEO Olivia Wirth, Jetstar CEO Stephanie Tully, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer Andrew McGinnes, General Counsel Andrew Finch and Chief Sustainability Officer Andrew Parker.
Other appointments included former Journey Beyond senior executive Peter Egglestone returning to Sydney to take up the role of CEO for Zenith Payments, TravelPay’s parent company, and David Hassan, who was Helloworld Travel Limited’s Chief Information Officer some years ago, becoming Chief Technology Officer for G’day Group which has aspirations to transform to a $2.5 billion business in the next five years. Late breaking news yesterday also saw the respected cruise industry expert Kathy Pavlidis appointed to the newly created role of Cruise Manager for Flight Centre Travel Group’s Travel Associates brand.
Qantas was also in the news, switching its stick for a carrot in an unusually travel agent-friendly move which will see trans-Tasman fares sold via the NDC-based Qantas Distribution Platform (QDP) discounted by up to 5%. Qantas continued to evolve its loyalty ecosystem with a boost to benefits under its Accor partnership for Gold frequent flyers; debuted a new training academy to help boost the ranks of its home-grown engineering staff; and launched a much-needed tool to help passengers redeem the more than $400 million in COVID credits that the carrier is continuing to sit on – making it easier to locate bookings that are up to three years old or may have been changed multiple times as border restrictions changed during the pandemic.
The corporate travel sector also saw a couple of major updates this week, including the long-awaited confirmation that Corporate Travel Management had won the Whole of Australian Government contract, which also now includes the previously separate accommodation contract. With CTM having effectively purchased the business when it acquired QBT as part of Helloworld Corporate, the company clearly put its best foot forward to retain the huge contract, which is for an initial four year term with three further optional renewal years. In a similar vein, the NSW Government revealed it is seeking accommodation partners to serve the travel needs of staff across its multitude of agencies, in a tender process being overseen by Flight Centre’s FCM Consulting.
In cruise we saw Oceania confirm the details of its previously flagged “simply MORE” pricing structure, with local chief Jason Worth saying the move should make it easier for travel advisors to attract new-to-brand clients for the line. And this month there will be lots more cruise news coming, with a number of Aussie industry people heading to Europe for the inaugural journeys of Explora I and the reborn Crystal Serenity and then in August Silversea’s brand new Silver Nova.
We also saw AFTA open nominations for the highly anticipated 2023 National Travel Industry Awards, with a new process and new categories led by the NTIA Custodians who represent a wide cross section of travel industry businesses including suppliers, travel agents, tour operators and wholesalers. Full details are online at afta.com.au, and nominations close on July 14th so don’t miss out!
Finally yesterday we saw Jetstar debut its new non-stop flights from Sydney to the Cook Islands, where my colleague Adam Bishop is currently investigating the delights of the destination. But don’t worry, he’ll be back on deck with the rest of the team on Monday to continue to bring you all the latest industry news.
Have a great weekend