Weekly wrap – 22nd July 2023

Associate Editor MYLES STEDMAN wraps the week in travel and cruise.

AS ALL of your family members, friends, colleagues, associates, and acquaintances scorched in Europe this week, the travel industry too heated up.

Flight Centre Travel Group upgraded its profit guidance this week, showing the company is responding strongly across its corporate and leisure divisions. The group is now eyeing off a $483 million turnaround in underlying EBITDA for the 2023 fiscal year, according to its elevated guidance. Flight Centre is now expecting a healthier result of between $295-305 million, which is a 7% increase on the previously flagged range of $270-$290 million.

While Flight Centre was raking in the cash, Rex Airlines was spending it, leasing two more Boeing 737s, with the first of the two aircraft set to enter service mid-next month. Rex anticipates the first of the new additions to arrive in Australia by the end of the month, and the second to come by mid-September. The additional two aircraft will take Rex’s 737 fleet to nine, bolstering its domestic network and expansion plans, which includes daily flights between Melbourne and Hobart, beginning 17 August.

Meanwhile, another carrier, Singapore Airlines, confirmed a multi-year deal to sponsor the Australian Federation of Travel Agents’ (AFTA) National Travel Industry Awards (NTIA). Singapore took on the sponsorship for the first time last year, with AFTA Chief Executive Officer Dean Long saying the Association is thrilled to again welcome the carrier as the NTIA’s sponsor. He thanked Singapore for its “incredible support” for the industry night of nights, which is scheduled to take place in Melbourne on 18 November.

Elsewhere, the Administrators of Livn Group confirmed the business is continuing to trade in a scaled-back form, during a process which aims to finalise its sale by the end of the month.
Livn was formed in 2011 to connect activity and experience operators with global distribution, but ceased trading last month after its primary backer, Bicheno Investments, withdrew support, after investing around $14 million in the company in prior years.
“The trading and funding prospects of FY24 were deemed too capital intensive, resulting in the appointment of voluntary administrators,” according to Antony Resnick from administrator DVT Group. Livn had accumulated trading losses of $26.4 million when its backer pulled the pin, with expressions of interest in the company now whittled down to two preferred bidders, who are entering into due diligence.

Also in start-up land, Melbourne-based travel technology firm Aeronology announced the launch of a so-called “Global Ticket Centre Solution”, which co-founder Russell Carstensen claims will be “transformational for the travel industry”. Dubbed AeroTickets, the cloud-based platform will enable all travel businesses to manage their ticketing services, “whether in one or 100 countries”, pulling all requirements into a single system regardless of the source. AeroTickets will feature GDS content alongside NDC and LCC fares, promising full IATA ticketing (including Airline Ticket Stock), BSP connection, private fares compatibility, and PCI DSS and GDPR compliance.

Also this week, the Australian Travel Agents Cooperative (ATAC) announced a new fee-based business model, along with tiered remuneration for member overrides, while still retaining 100% of at-source commission for its members. An evolution of the 30-year-old organisation was flagged at the ATAC conference last year, with General Manger Michelle Emerton saying the new structure will offer key advantages. “The fee and tiered level remuneration will incentivise agents to expand their preferred supplier business, leading to increased income for everyone,” she said.

Elsewhere in the travel industry, Canada-based travel technology solutions PC Voyages announced the launch of office system TravelWorks in Australia, and The Travel Corporation released its second annual global impact report, pronouncing sustainability as more important than ever to Australian travellers.

Let’s hope some of the heat emanating off the travel industry warms up our presently freezing country this weekend!

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