Airlines chart net zero flight path amid pandemic turbulence


Pieter Elbers, managing director of Dutch airline KLM, is also fighting the increases at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. But the 40% increase is considerably lower than that announced by Heathrow, already one of the most expensive airports in the world.

Elbers says Holland-Kayes’ proposals could have serious consequences for the resumption of British aviation more broadly. “In general, aviation will come back, I am very convinced of that. [But] the speed of return will not be exactly the same in different markets.

“Some airports, and Heathrow is no exception, have announced very significant cost increases. Basically they want to recoup the losses of the last two years and say, ‘OK, the airlines, you have to pay them back’. “

He adds, “It could create some differentiation in the speed of recovery. “

Divergent positions on resuming aviation remained the elephant in the room for many Boston executives as they sipped cocktails and bottles of Bud Light at evening social events that lacked the lavish entertainment of the previous years.

Sir Tim Clark, the Briton who has run Emirates airline for nearly two decades, is particularly optimistic. He says Covid “will be part of history” by at least 2023, with travel returning to pre-pandemic standards.

Others are more pessimistic. The consultancy firm Bain & Company believes that it may be necessary to wait until the end of 2025 for pre-pandemic levels to be reached in some parts of the world.

What the bosses can agree on is that airlines will have to cut investments and raise prices to pay off heavily indebted balance sheets. “I think the prices were too low before Covid,” says Spohr. Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary also warned that vacations would be more expensive next year.

As the Conservative Party conference takes place this week more than 3,000 miles away, expat Clark, 71, sums up the mood. “We will have to rebuild,” he said. “But with less.”

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