THE WEEK THAT WAS – 30 July 2022
By Bruce Piper, Publisher
This has been a great week for Australian technology firm Rail Online, which confirmed a venture capital deal valuing the startup at $12.5 million. The cash injection is strong validation for the company’s founders, all formerly executives at the local operations of Rail Europe and its predecessor, Rail Plus. The business has strong tailwinds, with the rail sector seen as ripe for digital disruption, alongside pent-up demand and increasing awareness of train travel as a green travel option. It’s going to be a fascinating journey to watch going forward, with the investment expected to help drive rapid growth.
But digitisation brings with it threats as well as opportunities – as the industry heard this week in a full and frank update from Scenic Group founder Glen Moroney. Faced with a brutal cyber attack earlier this year, his defiant attitude was characteristic of his ever-optimistic entrepreneurial spirit. Never one to shy away from a challenge, the ebullient Moroney detailed the company’s response in a comprehensive explanation of why service levels have suffered as a result of a ransom demand. “I took the decision not to pay, as I believe it just incentivises these criminals to keep hacking other businesses,” he said. The consequences required a major rebuild of the company’s systems, and are a salutary example of standing strong in the face of industry challenges.
Challenges of another kind reared their ugly head this week in a renewal of the longstanding hostilities between Regional Express and Qantas. A blistering attack from Rex saw the carrier fuming about Qantas pulling out of two regional routes from Melbourne, calling on the ACCC to act on QF tactics alleged by the regional operator rival as intended to drive it out of business. Qantas responded quickly, labelling Rex’s accusations as “increasingly absurd” given it had recently pulled out of eight non-performing routes itself. Whatever the outcome of this latest flare-up we can be sure it’s not the end of the stoush, with a quick search of the Travel Daily archives revealing similar accusations from Rex about anticompetitive behaviour as far back as 2009.
Meanwhile, the return of Federal Parliament this week saw industry organisations bolstering ties with the new Government and Opposition, including a busy roster of meetings with political leaders and bureaucrats for both AFTA and CATO. AFTA CEO Dean Long’s discussions included the need for urgent action on the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) threat to the Indonesian border, with the Federation to host an industry-wide webinar next Wednesday on the topic.
Finally, the big picture story worth watching from this week is the prospect of non-stop flights between Australia and Israel. The move is facilitated by the opening of Saudi Arabian airspace to foreign carriers – a potential game-changer, slashing hours off flight times. The easing of tensions in the Middle East which have seen soaring demand on new flights between the UAE and Tel Aviv – unthinkable just a few years ago – has shown the huge potential for new tourism and travel options to Israel.
Before I go, the travelBulletin team has published the latest version of our industry statistics summary, with the August update now live on our website. It’s one of our most popular features and definite worth checking out. We’ve also now implemented a new page tracking all the latest travel and tourism share prices, which will feature in each week’s email. And please if you’ve got something to get off your chest we’d love to feature your opinions so send them through to [email protected].
Have a great weekend!