Weekly Wrap – 25th February 2023

BRUCE PIPER wraps up another big week in Australian travel, cruise and tourism industry news.

IT’S BEEN another huge week for travel industry news, and amidst all the busy-ness I think we’re all due for a nice lie down this weekend. Reporting season, when our publicly listed companies announce their half-yearly results, is always hectic and this year it seems even more frenetic than usual thanks to the ongoing rebound in activity which has seen lots of additional announcements alongside the financial results.

Over the last couple of days Qantas has dominated the headlines, after reporting a stellar result which saw a huge profit turnaround – not particularly surprising given the soaring airfares in the market – but nevertheless a welcome sign of industry buoyancy. The result will see the carrier invest in new lounges including a London Heathrow First Lounge set to open in 2025 in line with the anticipated commencement of Project Sunrise non-stops from Australia’s east coast to the UK capital.

QF CEO Alan Joyce also announced fleet expansion including more wet leased E190s from Alliance Airlines, additional A320s for Jetstar Asia and exercising options for A220s for delivery in 2026 and 2027. He confirmed eventual plans for Viasat-powered high-speed free wi-fi on international flights, as well as updated premium cabins on the ultra-long-haul Project Sunrise A350s which are also expected to operate to New York.

Earlier in the week we also saw financial results reported by Helloworld Travel Limited and Flight Centre Travel Group, with both confirming strong activity particularly in terms of TTV. Helloworld sales more than tripled to $1.2 billion, with the company recording a $1.6 million after tax profit, some of which is being distributed in the form of a 2c per share dividend. Flight Centre noted that its six monthly result was well ahead of expectations, also with threefold TTV of $9.9 billion – tracking at 80% of pre-pandemic levels, with an increasingly significant leisure contribution from its fast-growing Luxury and Independent Brands division.

We also saw half-yearly results handed down by THL Limited, Air New Zealand, Kelsian, Siteminder, Camplify and airport transfer marketplace Jayride which intriguingly recorded a $2.7 million loss on $2.5 million in sales, as it continued to invest in expanding its global market footprint. Yes, the Travel Daily team has had a busy week ploughing through lots of financial reports!

In cruising, Scenic confirmed that its highly anticipated Scenic Eclipse II is on schedule, while Aurora Expeditions’ Sylvia Earle was christened by its namesake explorer. And Celestyal Cruises looks to be back on track in terms of its fleet plans, with the acquisition of the former P&O Pacific Aria (also previously Holland America Line’s Ryndam) – a ship which has literally been passed from hand to hand over the last three years from Carnival to the defunct CMV as Ida Pfeiffer, then onto Greek ferry operator Seajets, and now on to Celestyal where she will sail as Celestyal Journey.

Sydney Airport confirmed that its P1 domestic car park, which was abruptly closed late last year after an engineering inspection, will be now demolished by mid-2024, at the same time promising minimal disruption for passengers. Yeah right. Albatross Tours’ famously moustached founder Euan Landsborough announced his intention to appoint a Managing Director; the Council of Australian Tour Operators signed a Memorandum of Understanding with its fledgling NZ counterpart, the NZ Outbound Travel Suppliers Association; and there’s been a huge amount of activity from the US with the annual Visit USA roadshows and the announcement that Brand USA will reprise its mega-famil concept in June by taking 50 Aussie and Kiwi travel advisors to America.

And finally there was also lots of action around the controversial ACCC applications currently being considered in relation to the Qantas and Emirates alliance. After initially appearing to back AFTA’s submissions on the issue, Helloworld Travel Limited has seemingly split from the rest of the industry by coming out strongly in favour of the pact – while yesterday QF and EK’s response to AFTA was made public, rubbishing many of the claims made by the Federation and urging the ACCC to proceed with authorisation of the pact. The Commission is continuing to consider the matter, and a draft decision has been flagged for February or March so we will all be keeping our eyes peeled!

And after all that, I think I’m ready for a Bex. Have a great weekend!


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