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Mergers, fuel surcharges, open skies agreements – debate the future of flying
Written by editor

The airline industry continues to generate headline news; the 2008 World Travel Market Airline Program will explore the burning issues in a series of thought-provoking seminar sessions.

The airline industry continues to generate headline news; the 2008 World Travel Market Airline Program will explore the burning issues in a series of thought-provoking seminar sessions. Positioned in the context of the turbulent environment currently affecting the sector, the discussions will cover a range of subjects including market position, rising fuel costs, future strategy and the environment.

Chaired by senior industry consultant John Strickland, the program begins with the Head to Head featuring airline CEO’s examining the new long-haul, low-cost business model on Tuesday, November 11. Based around the current difficult market conditions, is the long-haul, low-cost model sustainable?

The Head to Head panel includes Alex Cruz, CEO of Clickair and Azran Osman Rani, CEO of Air Asia X. Specifically looking at the low-cost market, the seminar will discuss how it differs from the short-haul model and how important low-cost airlines are to the travel and tourism industry.

Bringing the airline debate to the WTM World Responsible Tourism Day agenda on Wednesday, November 12, John Strickland will chair a targeted seminar on the Airline Impact on the Environment. As one of the main targets in the carbon emissions dispute, the seminar looks at what the airline industry is doing to improve its own performance.

The expert speaker group consists of Silla Maizey, head of Corporate Social Responsibility at British Airways, Dr. Mark Watson, head of Corporate Environmental Affairs at the Society of British Aerospace Companies, Jill Brady, general counsel for Virgin Atlantic Airways and Nick Mercer, commercial director for Eurostar. Together with John Strickland, the group will discuss and debate topics including Better Air Traffic Control, more efficient aircraft, improvements in engine technology, bio fuels, passenger carbon offsetting and trains versus planes.

John Strickland commented, “Airlines today are facing a crisis situation – they are under pressure from all angles with rising fuel prices, falling demand and environmental criticism. We will be exploring how the world’s airlines are facing up to these tough challenges. What are their business strategies today, and what new models are emerging? How do they meet the complaints about airlines’ contribution to the environment problem, and what are they doing about it?

“There is much positive activity underway, and we aim, with our panels of top industry players, to explore the issues and demonstrate not only the importance of the air transport business to tourism and the global economy, but to highlight the real energy and determination it is applying to the problems which it faces.”

Rounding out the sector’s program, the airline debate will play an important role in the Thursday, November 13 WTM Global Economic Forum where John Strickland will represent the industry. Bringing together the impact of the global credit crunch on air travel with the effects on trading volumes, the outlook for long-term growth assessment, changing trends, industry consolidation and the role of government in air transport, John will discuss how these issues tie into the overall effects on travel and tourism, as airline travel is one of the major modes of transportation for holidaymakers.

Speaking about the program WTM chairman Fiona Jeffery said, “The airline sector, for the past thirty years and today, continues to play a major role in the travel and tourism industry. Acting as the main transport provider delivering the tourist to destinations worldwide, giving individuals access to new places and creating jobs and prosperity, this specialized industry segment is a key area at the exhibition. World Travel Market, along with senior experts, will deliver a highly-topical airline series this November.”

WTM Airline Program Schedule

– Low Cost Airline CEO Panel: Tuesday, November 11, 11:00 hrs, North Gallery Room 6/7
– Airlines Impact on the Environment: Wednesday, November 12, 14:00 hrs, North Gallery Room 4/5
– WTM Global Economic Forum: Thursday, November 13, 11:00 hrs, Platinum Suite 4
– Early bird discount of £59 valid until October 3. The regular rate of £79 is valid from October 4 – 7.

For more information and to book and attend the WTM Global Economic Forum, please visit .