The Emirates president gave an exclusive leadership keynote interview
The Arabian Travel Market continued this week, from 24 to 26 May, with the debut of ATM Virtual. During the three-day event, those unable to attend the in-person show this year had the opportunity to view recorded sessions with keynote speakers and participate in a range of webinars, live conference sessions, roundtables, speed networking events and destination briefings.
Under the theme of ‘A New Dawn for Travel & Tourism’, the ATM Virtual began with an exclusive airline industry interview with Emirates president Sir Tim Clark.
Initially, Sir Tim gave his opinion on the recovery timescale of the aviation sector saying: “The ideal situation is that the vaccine programme beats the virus by Autumn of this year and we get some relief, then demand will come back at a staggering rate. Low cost [airlines] will benefit from intra-European travel, the US domestic market, China’s domestic market and international travel will [also] return in large numbers. But the problem will be twofold: the ability of airlines to meet the demand when it comes and the conditionality of country access requirements.”
Sir Tim went on to explain that even though there is massive pent-up demand, there may well be inhibitors too. Some passengers might be nervous and worried about variant strains of Covid-19, the situation in India, he said, is creating a ripple effect across the global economy.
Although airlines and airports had really worked hard to ‘sanitise’ how they managed passenger welfare, mitigating risk through their protocols, that alone would not be enough.
“It’s a question of how we navigate the next six months and if we do it right with equitable vaccine distribution, and testing regimes simplified and made cheaper, all of this lends to the theory that by the end of the year, we’ll be back in business in some scale,” he said.
Sir Tim then moved on to talk about business travel and said: “Business travel will return in absolute terms, but segments will change. Airlines will have to adapt to the changing nature of demand. An à la carte menu for business class, which allows you to pick and choose products at various price points, is a smart idea.”
When asked about the longer outlook for aviation, Sir Tim ended on a defiant and positive note: “In the fullness of time it will all go away; it will be history.”