As always folks, it was a very busy week in the wonderful world of travel.
Perhaps making the biggest wave was an announcement by AFTA to create an advisory panel for the National Travel Industry Awards (NTIAs), with a view to further refining and shaping the industry’s night of nights. Five representatives will form the special NTIA Custodian team as part of the new strategy, with one person from retail agencies, the corporate travel sector, online travel, tour operators/wholesalers and cruise/air suppliers all having input into key aspects of the event, such as award categories and the judging process.
In the world of aviation, it was a mixed bag for Qantas this week, which posted a handful of positive announcements in between picking up the dubious honour of a Choice Shonky award for perceived poor customer service. Among the big-ticket moves was a confirmed plan to commence regular services to Samoa and Tonga once all necessary approvals have been received – shoring up its presence in the Pacific following a period of travel restrictions. The Flying Kangaroo also deepened its partnership with Bangkok Airways, allowing Qantas loyalty members to book Classic Flight Reward seats to more than 20 destinations across Thailand and Southeast Asia, and opening up thousands of new redemption opportunities in some of Australia’s most popular markets. But in true rocks and diamonds form, Qantas finished the week by blasting proposed Federal Government industrial relations reforms, with the airline’s Chairman, Richard Goyder, suggesting the changes would be a blunt instrument solution that would effectively dismantle the enterprise bargaining system that he believes has served Australia well for decades.
Staying with aviation and across the ditch Air New Zealand has made even greater commitments to becoming a carbon net zero operation, revealing a new strategy to add electric aircraft to its fleet. A new accelerator program called Mission Next Generation Aircraft will seek to deliver the Kiwi carrier its first commercial demonstrator flight from 2026, followed by a flood of more sustainable planes to replace its Q300 domestic fleet from 2030.
There were also big changes at the top for the CT Partners Board, with outgoing travel veteran Barry Mayo to be replaced by Reed & Mackay’s David Greenland as its new Non-Executive Chair. He will take charge of an expanded board of seven directors, which now includes the new faces of Wentworth Travel’s Anna McMurtrie, Peter Muller from ATPI, TravelManagers head Joe Araullo and Shane Barr from TAG.
In some reassuring news on the agency front, Flight Centre revealed it will reopen 35 of its branded stores across the country in the coming months, marking a major turning point in its bricks-and-mortar operations. The primary focus will be on making sure there is a physical retail presence in regional areas, which Flight Centre Brand GM Australia Brent Novak said was particularly relevant for customers living outside of the big cities who prefer face-to-face interactions when booking travel plans.
The week finished with a concerning report jointly handed down by the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) and the Department of Foreign Affairs, which showed that many Aussie travellers were out of touch with the reality of what to do when things turn pear-shaped overseas. Two-thirds of respondents believe the Federal Government would step in and organise medical treatment while overseas, while half also wrongly believed that a fully funded repatriation flight would be organised by the government in an emergency. The findings prompted ICA CEO Andrew Hall to call for more travellers to be aware that travel insurance should be as fundamental as a passport when booking their next holiday.
Finally, in some bittersweet developments, at the time of publishing this wrap up, travelBulletin’s attempt to garner enough votes in an Instagram poll to have the next Bonza plane named after our intrepid Publisher Bruce Piper appears to be in trouble. At the last count, Bruce was trailing the name Sheila – probably not the first time a Sheila has broken Bruce’s heart.
Have a great weekend everyone!