Key quotes: Routes Europe 2022

Routes Europe 2022 brought together leaders from across Europe's aviation industry. Below are a selection of their key quotes from the evemt's conference programme.

EasyJet Director of Network and Airports Neil Slaven: “We are, by a long way, not out of the woods—it is really tough out there. Although we are generating volumes, those volumes are not yet economically viable. And I think that's a really strong message to land to this stakeholder community. You’re seeing volumes increase through your airports, but those passengers are being bought at a very cheap price currently. And that is the point. As an industry, we are recovering but we are not yet operating at breakeven—this industry is not economically viable currently.”

Norse Atlantic CEO Bjørn Tore Larsen: “Everybody knows that starting an airline is close to insanity and it’s at least a very good way of losing a whole lot of money. But still, I think there is an entry point where it could be attractive if you execute it properly. For us, I'm convinced we can execute it in a manner that will satisfy our customers and be profitable. We are probably not going to do everything right, but we are fast learners.”

SAS CEO Anko van der Werff: “When you look at this summer, commercial activity throughout spring has been strong. There’s no other way about it—it has been really, really good. There is lots of pent-up demand and people will travel this summer. However, I am a very positive, glass half-full person typically, but I’m still not convinced by the winter season.”

ACI Europe deputy director general Morgan Foulkes: “We see inflation that is hitting households. Of course, governments are introducing policies but there are limits to what governments can do to weather the impact of the increase in commodity prices. And I'm sorry, but that obviously translates into potentially falling business and consumer confidence which might also impact the demand for air transport down the road. If the energy supply crisis worsens, we could well see unprecedented policy measures.”

Avinor CEO Abraham Foss: “The demand is ready. I mentioned the traffic numbers; people are ready to travel, to live out their dreams and to conduct businesses. The supply side is why we're here, airlines, airports, destinations and everybody involved in the whole hospitality industry has suffered a lot during the pandemic. But that means that the whole sector is even hungrier to deliver, to drive business, accommodate customer wishes and produce services for passengers and get the whole value chain up and running.”

Airlines for Europe (A4E) managing director Thomas Reynaert: “It's natural that after a crisis, or a downside, that suppliers will try to recuperate their losses. Proper consultation with airlines is not always happening. We know that the airport charges directive is dysfunctional. It really hasn't brought competition amongst airports, which it should have. So, I think we need to look at reopening, or continuing, discussion on the airport charges directive.”

IATA regional vice-president for Europe Rafael Schvartzman: “The European Green Deal and the Fit for 55 legislative package promised new opportunities but could also damage our industry if the policies are mismanaged. The recognition of the importance of SAF in the Fit for 55 initiative is welcome. But it doesn't make sense to propose that SAF must be delivered at almost every airport in Europe. A more flexible booking claim system would enable airlines to purchase SAF where it is more most economically efficient.”

Norwegian CEO Geir Karlsen: “Back in 2017, 2018 and 2019, we had a lot of aircraft coming our way, meaning too many deliveries, both on narrowbodies and on widebodies as well. The growth was too aggressive, way too aggressive. This time, we have the luxury of actually growing into demand.”