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CAPA 2018 Airline Leader Summit

2nd June 2018 - 12:40pm

Willie Walsh (CEO IAG)

Willie Walsh (CEO IAG)

CEO Gathering in the Powerscourt Hotel, Co Wicklow on 17th & 18th of May.  This year’s event kicked off with a presentation by Vincent Harrison (MD Dublin Airport). He updated the audience in relation to Ireland's busiest airport, with 13 new carriers in recent years and the increasing importance of Asian destinations to the airport. The new runway is finally on track and despite being in planning since the 1960’s, it is set to open in 2021.


Minister for Tourism & Sport, Shane Ross TD welcomed all of the delegates and members of CAPA to his home county, the garden of Ireland, Co Wicklow. He detailed the national development strategy and stated a third terminal was not to be ruled out.


Peter Harbison (Executive Chairman CAPA) gave a recap of the last year in aviation. 2017 was a “fairy tale” year for the airline trade, driven by the low oil prices, however, this will not be replicated in 2018 given the rebound of Jet fuel prices. He outlined the key focus of this year's conference - how the aviation industry can earn more money to offset an increasingly competitive market.


The Keynote Address - "Who provides the data, who collects it - and who knows how to use it?" was delivered by Andreas Weigend (Director Social Data Lab) and author of ‘Data for the People: How to Make Our Post-Privacy Economy Work for You’. He detailed the importance of big data, social mobile technologies and understanding consumer behaviour. He gave a great example of how airlines can optimise available data to create a product/revenue stream. Agoda started as a hotel inventory site and transformed into a bed-bank. They identified the empty rooms on their system and used the data to sell the unused rooms as a discount.


Pieter Elbers (CEO KLM) spoke of the ash cloud as the catalyst for KLM to push social media, the call centre for the airline was overwhelmed with the levels of calls coming in. This motivated a deep shift to focus and develop the social media side of their customer care which, in turn, has driven higher levels of customer satisfaction.


He also explained, in recent years, KLM has noticed that infrequent flyers do not download the KLM app. This drove the expansion into where the customers are, namely, Facebook Messenger, What's App, We Chat and Twitter. You can now receive your booking confirmation and boarding pass on these social media channels.


Day two covered challenges to the aviation industry/growth with the European market described as “very vibrant”, exhibiting 8% growth in 2017. Many mid-sized airlines are in financial difficulty. However, Willie Walsh highlighted the largest threat to the industry is the level of industrial action by air traffic controllers, affecting hundreds of thousands of passengers a year and this is hindering the prospects for growth in the market. On a similar vein, air traffic management is becoming an issue due to capacity demand. On a positive note, Willie Walsh advised he had no concerns about the US Open Sky's Agreement in relation to Brexit.


The highly informative conference provided a whistle-stop tour of the opportunities and challenges facing the airline industry with heavy hitters delivering informative presentations which heavily focused on the increasingly digitised world in which we operate. There is a strong requirement in today's environment for the need to move quickly, be innovative and adapt to a marketplace with the importance of social media and rapidly changing consumer behaviour trends. It was great to see the level of Irish in top jobs both in aviation and IT, showing once again, Ireland punches above its weight.

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Peter Harbison (Executive Chairman CAPA)
Peter Harbison (Executive Chairman CAPA) pictured with Pieter Elbers (CEO KLM)
The Dublin Airport team
The panel included Andrew Herdman (AAPA), Zhihang Chi (Air China), Christina Cassotis (Pittsburgh International Airport), Albert Muntane Casanova (DVB Bank) and Christine Ourmieres-Widener (Flybe)
Pieter Elbers (CEO KLM)
Dominic Matthews (Amadeus)
Juha Jarvinen (Finnair)
Patrick Byrne (CityJet)
The panel consisting of Johnny Thorsen (Mezi), Hugh Aitken (Skyscanner), Derek Sharp (Travelport), Aidan Brogan (Datalex) and Peter Bellew (Ryanair)
Derek Sharp (Travelport)
Kenny Jacobs (Ryanair)
Bobby Healy (Car Trawler)
Travelport purchased 261 pints of Guinness to thank all of the 261 airlines they have signed up.
Willie Walsh (CEO IAG)

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