Long-haul, low-cost on brink of changing industry.
Airline execs: Long-haul, low-cost on brink of changing industry.
Two of the airline industry’s most prominent executives predicted the imminent arrival of viable long-haul, low-cost services in London at the World Travel Market conference and exhibition on Nov. 7.
“We’re just on the brink of something new coming along,” Emirates Airline president Tim Clark said.
“Now you’re seeing Scoot, Norwegian and AirAsia X coming along. I think we’re seeing the beginnings of an inflection point,” he said. The current crop of young long-haul, low-cost carriers had some work to do to refine their business models, but he believed the market would see a major change.
However, Clark added he would have made his comments “with more gusto” if he had not been concerned about moves away from liberalism and free trade in certain nations. If that trend continued, it would likely kill off much of this new growth.
International Airlines Group CEO Willie Walsh echoed Clark’s comments, but said not every airline that attempted long-haul, low-cost services would be successful: “There will be lots of airlines that label themselves long-haul, low-cost and will never make a penny,” he said.
He admired the efforts of Norwegian to be a front runner in this category, which had demonstrated that passengers were prepared to countenance the unbundling of fares for long-haul flights in the same way as they had accepted this in the short-haul market, although Norwegian had “not yet cracked it” in terms of success.
Like Clark, he feared that changing political and economic moods could hamper the progress of such airlines.
“It does depend on a liberal regime that allows you to access destinations” that would provide the necessary traffic flows, he said.
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