future of travel

Global Futurist Chris Riddell Wants You to Think About the Future like a Technology Company

HIGH-SPEED change is the new disruptor in the travel industry and the rate of change in the next three years is going to shape and transform society for the next 100 years in a way that we’ve never seen.

Futurist Chris Riddell believes that our future will see a complete reinvention of everything that we see today on planet Earth.

He was presenting in Sydney some of the key changes on our horizon to delegates at Flight Centre Travel Group’s annual event, Illuminate, dedicated to informing and providing insights into the global corporate travel industry.

As a futurist, Riddell looks to see how “humans and business are adapting and changing to see what we can do to get ourselves ready for the future.”

His presentation focused on how the travel industry is going to change and why delegates need to be an extension of what’s happening within the human part of this change. According to Riddell some of the main disruptions shaping our future include:

The Amazon Effect

For the first time in history we’re witnessing on a large scale an online business, Amazon, moving into the offline space. Amazon’s US$13.7 billion purchase in 2017 of bricks-and-mortar organic grocery chain Whole Foods Market sent the share prices of major grocery retailers plummeting overnight. This purchase was the reverse of the mainstream progression of businesses moving from the physical to the digital. Overnight, Amazon became the biggest bricks-and-mortar retailer in the U.S. by market capitalisation and in doing so shifted us into a world of ‘category killers’ ruling industry.

The big question remaining is which other oppositional business is going to buy up traditional organisations. Might Facebook buy Costco? Will Twitter buy Target?

In the business of data, Google (Alphabet) is the biggest data company on earth – there is no close number two. We’re leaping into a world where category killers are dominating industry.

Trust Issues

We’re emerging from one of the biggest trust crises we have ever had. Our trust in organisations in the private and public sectors is at an all-time low. Data crises including with Facebook and the Cambridge Analytics scandal have eroded trust in those companies whose business is data. Similarly, the Volkswagen emissions scandal and consumer confidence in the U.S. along with many other public corporate crises has dented our trust in many big brands. The question then is how do we move ahead? 

Riddell believes that trust fundamentally is not going to go back to previous levels and that we will have to reinvent trust to be able to move forward. He says technology will be an enabler for us to reinvent trust. In the tech sector, the makers of wearable technology are faring better when it comes to trust – the value of the experience we get from wearable devices, for example, compared to the data we share is on parity, and this puts us in a place of trust with these brands.

Feeding the beast

The truth is though that we are worried about robotics, technology and our future. Nearly everything we do, from getting on an aeroplane, checking into a hotel, hiring a car, involves generating a lot of data, which ‘feeds the beast’ in terms of telling companies about our likes, habits and preferences. In order for many interactions with companies and their apps to succeed we need to keep feeding them a whole lot of data. Data is one of the most important resources that we have, and it truly has become the ‘new oil’. In order to win trust with customers, you need to create exceptional value every single time.

One of the fastest growing sectors in the world is the healthcare sector where the accumulation of data is presenting many opportunities but also structural and privacy concerns. The ability to run your own heart tests through portable technology that will become more accessible is mirrored by companies like 23andme.com, where you can send off a $100 test sample to a company and receive in return a full DNA spectrum on your health. This is prompting many people to start seeking treatment for conditions that they don’t yet have and putting severe strain on the health system.

Addiction to technology

We live in a new age where we are addicted to technology and yet are continually distracted by it. Technology from companies like Apple and Microsoft is now invading even personal intimate offline moments we are meant to have with each other. Consumers now have more technology power in their pockets than many organisations have, and replace their technology faster. This has created a power balance shift, where consumers now own the experience and will dictate the experience they will want to have with us. What we have to do now is keep up with this data transfer and reinvent ourselves.

The sharing economy, block-chain, augmented intelligence and the internet-of-things are the changes that are going to be impacting the travel industry and anyone connected to travel. What this means is that organisations are now getting so much data and opportunity to get insight from individual human beings than we have ever had before. No longer can we just ‘pigeon-hole’ people, but we have to use this data to create tailored, individual experiences. ‘Augmented intelligence’ is about blending humanity and technology together to create experiences that just a few years ago you never thought were possible.

Chris Riddell’s challenge is: “If you want to be in business beyond tomorrow, you need to start thinking about the future like a technology company. You have to keep up with this relentless pace of change that we are going through. Your job is to see where the opportunities lie for you, because this is the most exciting time to ever be a human being on planet earth.”

Illuminate 2019 was supported by Flight Centre Travel Group’s corporate businesses – FCM Travel Solutions, Corporate Traveller, cievents, Stage and Screen Travel Services and 4th Dimension Business Travel Consulting.


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Flight Centre’s Corporate Travel Division Named One of AFR’s Most Innovative Companies

The Corporate brands of the Flight Centre Travel Group are celebrating after being named in The Australian Financial Review BOSS Most Innovative Companies list for 2019 last night in Sydney.

The prestigious annual list, published by The Australian Financial Review and Boss Magazine, is based on a rigorous assessment process managed by Australia’s leading innovation consultancy, Inventium, in conjunction with a panel of industry expert judges. 

The brands of FCM Travel Solutions, Corporate Traveller and Stage and Screen combined are represented as Flight Centre Corporate in the Professional Services list and are recognised for bringing a revolutionary AI-inspired online booking tool, Savi and smart assistant mobile application, Sam to the Australian Travel market.

“We are thrilled to announce the first-ever industry-specific Most Innovative Companies List. What separated the most innovative organisations from the least, was the involvement of the customer the entire way through the innovation process. Leading innovators also had strong mechanisms in place to recognise the innovation efforts of their staff,” said Dr Amantha Imber, Founder, Inventium.

Savi is an exclusive online booking tool which has been developed by our Corporate brands in conjunction with the company’s technology partner, Serko. It is available exclusively for customers of FCM Travel Solutions, Corporate Traveller, Stage and Screen Travel Services. Savi includes rich content, unique user modules and exclusive functionality that can’t be found elsewhere in the market. Savi and Sam together deliver an integrated superior travel experience.

Savi

Executive General Manager – Flight Centre Travel Group Corporate Division James Kavanagh said that Savi was created in response to the poor user experience observed from many online booking tools in the corporate travel sector.

“Savi was developed to incorporate Artificial Intelligence (AI) to create a smarter, better and simpler user experience for the business traveller and travel co-ordinator,” Mr Kavanagh said.

“Savi was born in response to a number of requests from customers to better streamline their business travel programs.

“Engaging with our customers we identified opportunities to address inefficient and costly actions in the online travel booking process which led to the development of Savi and its exclusive modules that leverage the latest in AI capabilities.”

The Savi Select, Savi Credits and Savi Voice modules help businesses and travellers make smarter decisions to maximise their travel savings.

Mr Kavanagh said that customers were engaged with at all stages of the product development process to ensure that it was adequately meeting their needs.

“For the first time, Savi is bringing a leisure booking experience into the corporate world in Australia and New Zealand. It has saved our customers time with its intuitive recommendation engine and traveller engagement model to expedite the booking process with the widest range of products including exclusive rates for our corporate customers,” Mr Kavanagh said.

“It is a leap forward as a customer-centric product and providing improved productivity.”

 

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Travellers Paid More for Their Domestic Tickets in 2017

Travellers paid more for their domestic tickets in 2017, while corporate international fares remained flat and leisure travellers paid on average 4.3% less for their long-haul tickets.

 

According to the latest 4D FOCUS – AUSTRALIA Aviation and Airfare Analysis, compiled by Flight Centre Travel Group’s 4th Dimension Business Travel Consulting division – (purchased) domestic economy corporate and leisure ticket prices rose, on average 3.5% and 8.9% in 2017 respectively.

 

The report includes a benchmarking study that compares tickets purchased from FCTG’s corporate and retail businesses in 2017 compared to 2016 and 2015 airfares.

 

Felicity Burke, General Manager of 4D, said the ticket increases the business had witnessed during the year in the domestic space had been driven by strong consumer demand, steady tourism growth and gradual increases in carrier published fares.

 

“Both Qantas Airways and Virgin Australia increased their published airfares during the year, with the largest percentage increases on the economy class restricted airfares,” Felicity said. “The carrier-driven increases have pushed the cheaper ‘leisure traveller’ airfares upwards to the range of 2.5% to 8%. Also noted are business class fare increases of between 2% to 8% and economy class flexible fares 2% to 7% during 2017.”

 

Felicity said the positive news was that international economy fares for corporates had remained flat in 2017 and leisure travellers had another year of excellent value, low-priced long-haul fares.

 

With approximately 62 airlines now servicing the international landscape, Felicity said Australian travellers continued to be ‘spoilt for choice with carriers, flight frequencies and in-flight product’.

 

FCTG Managing Director, Graham Turner, said the golden era of travel continued to shine brightly for travellers.

 

“Competitive international airfares, new direct flights such as the Perth to London, more frequent services, continually improved in-flight amenities plus unprecedented discounting on some routes are but a few of the positive takeaways from 2017,” Mr Turner said.

 

“If the price of oil continues to rise this could potentially mean ticket prices may increase in the near term. But we’re still going to see some excellent value across the international and domestic landscape as airlines compete for both the corporate and leisure dollar.”

Qantas’ recent start of non-stop services between Perth and London is the first of new city pairs to be offered by the airline as it welcomes new long-range aircraft to its fleet.  Qantas is also targeting ultra-long haul flights from the east coast of Australia to London and New York by 2022.

 

John Simeone, Qantas’ Head of Business and Government Sales, said in the report, ‘We’re seeing growth across all markets including the resources sector and the arrival of new aircraft allows us the chance to open new routes, just like Perth-London’.

 

The report indicated that Virgin Australia continued to focus on its guests’ travel experience rolling out wi-fi across the majority of its fleet, introducing Melbourne to Hong Kong flights in 2017 and commencing Sydney to Hong Kong services in July this year.

 

Some of the key findings in 4D’s report are below.

 

Domestic Travel – CORPORATE Economy Class airfare benchmarking

 

(based on 2017 fare benchmarking against 2016 fares)

 

  • Domestic economy class price changes for tickets purchased through FCTG’s corporate brands ranged from a 1% to 9% increase on key routes
  • Corporates flying the CBR – SYD route incurred the lowest increase with fares rising by 1%
  • Those corporates travelling on the ADL – SYD and HBA – MEL routes incurred the largest economy increases of 6% and 9% respectively.

Domestic Travel – LEISURE Economy Class airfare benchmarking

 

(based on 2017 fare benchmarking against 2016 fares)

 

  • From 2016 to 2017 the average price of domestic economy class leisure fares purchased through FCTG’s leisure division increased by 9%
  • The biggest increase for leisure tickets was for the ADL – SYD and MEL – SYD routes where prices increased by an average 14% over 2016
  • Leisure economy travellers flying BNE – PER saw the smallest increase of 4%.

BENCHMARK SUMMARY – Economy Class

 

 

Felicity said the increase in in-bound visitors and domestic tourism, had also impacted the availability of domestic seats with load factors reaching nearly 80% in 2017.

 

“The demand for domestic seats in the leisure space was very strong last year, which has also affected ticket prices,” she said.

 

The 4D report indicated a 2.5% and a 4.6% increase for corporate and leisure domestic fares during the next 18 months provided the carrier mix remained the same along with a positive outlook for the domestic economy.

 

Additionally four key industry themes have been highlighted for the year ahead:

 

  • Shifting airfares due to continued airline transformation, strong tourism numbers, solid load factors, a rise in oil prices and positive economic outlook
  • Connected technology such as biometric systems are producing a frictionless international passenger experience, speeding up processing times and reducing airport congestion;
  • Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia ending their trans-Tasman alliance, and Air New Zealand, Qantas and Virgin Australia making tactical moves to increase market share across the Tasman; and
  • International airlines continuing to adjust their networks from and to Australia, and deploy new aircraft for an improved flight experience.

FAST FACTS

  • MEL- SYD is the busiest domestic route (10.8 million seats – up 1.2% on 2016; 54,500 flights) and 2nd busiest route in the world in 2017 (up from 4th in 2016)

  • Brisbane – Sydney is the next busiest domestic route with 4.7 million seats flown during 2017

  • 8 million inbound visitors into Australia during 2017 (+6.5% on 2016)

  • 62 international airlines operated to/from Australia during 2017

  • 2017 On-time performance:

Virgin Network – departure 85.3%; arrival 83.4%

 

Qantas Network – departure 85.1%; arrival 84.4%.

 

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Bringing The Ashes Down Under, One Booking at a Time

An England Ashes cricket tour to Australia is always one of the most highly anticipated sporting visits to this country.

The return of the English Men’s and Women’s cricket teams for their respective Ashes campaigns is the culmination of months of planning to ensure both series are a success on the field for players, spectators and for all stakeholders.

Planning commenced for the 2017-18 season some years in advance by Cricket Australia as the host nation with the England and Wales Cricket Board; and travel, transport and accommodation by sports and entertainment travel company Stage and Screen Travel Services.

With the England squads touring in Australia from October to February The Ashes series will ensure a highly attended summer of international cricket in Australia.

Tiziano Galipo, General Manager Stage and Screen Travel Services said, ”The Ashes is a long and complex tour to arrange and requires close cooperation between all parties involved.

“We started making bookings eight months ago as soon as the touring calendar was set and then look at fine tuning requirements as the tour unfolds.”

Stage and Screen are required to book over 8,800 hotel room nights across 12 different hotels with over 1,100 bags of luggage required to be transported. Transport arrangements include booking 36 internal flights and 270 vans, cars and coaches to move the teams and support staff around the country.

Additionally, the teams will use over 37 dozen cricket balls for training on top of the match balls.

The five-match Magellan Ashes Test Series commenced on 23rd November 2017 in Brisbane and is followed by five Gillette One Day Internationals and a Twenty20 Trans-Tasman Tri-Series involving New Zealand.

The Commonwealth Bank Women’s Ashes Series has been played in Brisbane, Coffs Harbour, Canberra and North Sydney from 22nd October to 21st November 2017.

About Stage and Screen Travel Services
Stage and Screen is Australia’s leading entertainment and sports travel company, widely respected for its people, credibility and discretion. The company lives and breathe sports and entertainment. Its long-standing client relationships have provided expert insider knowledge. Matching its Travel Managers with its clients, Stage and Screen delivers extraordinary travel experiences for Sport | Music, Touring & Arts | TV & Production | Film | Creative Industries.

Airfare

SME Travellers Remain The Winners Amid Airfare Fluctuations

SME business travellers will face incremental airfare increases in 2018 but the passenger experience will be better than ever according to the latest 4D FOCUS – Australian Aviation and Airfare Analysis.

The report, produced by Flight Centre Travel Group’s (FCTG) 4th Dimension Business Travel Consulting (4D) team, includes a statistical outlook for 2017 and year on year benchmarking of corporate and leisure airfares from 2014 to 2016.

Corporate Traveller General Manager Jess Anscombe said despite some forecast increases on the most popular domestic routes, the uptick in airfares would be offset by the increased quality of the passenger experience.

“Qantas and Virgin Australia have shifted from capacity battles to focus on shoring up their product.  Both are vying for customer loyalty by introducing innovative new features on the ground and in the air,” she said.

“Two of the most important recent airline innovations was Qantas’ launch of its SME focused Qantas Business Rewards program and Virgin Australia unveiling its new Economy X Class.”

Ms Anscombe said the continued investment of both carriers to boosting their fleets and facilities pointed to the underlying value for money proposition being delivered to business travellers.

The report also suggested a shift from the long-held belief that booking 14-21 days in advance delivers the best fares on the busiest routes.

The introduction of Days of the Week fares in late 2016, which made certain fare types more expensive for travel on Thursdays and Fridays, being the clearest disruptor.

Ms Anscombe said the report also highlighted the continuing strong demand in key SME destinations of Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland with resulting cost increases for accommodation.

“Historically, airfares are still very competitive but using some professional expertise to match the market’s dynamic pricing is the best way to ensure you’re accessing the best airfares every time,” she said.

4D’s General Manager Felicity Burke said key international routes for SME travellers continued to show outstanding value.

“Flights between Sydney and Shanghai have dropped an astonishing 27 per cent in the last three years, the biggest fall of any major international route,” she said. “Sydney and Los Angeles were the next best performing flights dropping 16 per cent in the same period.

“Other major destinations for SME travellers including Auckland, Singapore and Hong Kong all fell between three and nine per cent.”

Business-Traveller

Flight Centre Travel Group & Airbnb Host New Options for Corporate Travel

In an Australian and New Zealand first, Airbnb, the world’s leading community driven marketplace, has partnered with Flight Centre Travel Group’s (FCTG) corporate division to provide corporate customers with more options when travelling for business.

With five different corporate travel brands, FCTG corporate, offers the broadest range of travel management services for organisations across Australia and New Zealand.

The new partnership with Airbnb means that FCTG’s corporate brands will now have an unrivalled pool of accommodation options to offer its corporate customers.

FCTG’s corporate brands, including FCM Travel Solutions, Corporate Traveller, Campus Travel and Stage and Screen, will have access to Airbnb for Business.

The new accommodation offering will give FCTG’s corporate customers access to more than three million listings worldwide, which are available to be booked through the home-sharing platform.

Since its founding in 2008, Airbnb hosts have welcomed more than 180 million guest arrivals at Airbnb listings worldwide. Approximately 10 per cent of all travellers on Airbnb are business travellers, and in 2016, the number of business trips on Airbnb tripled.

Through this partnership, FCTG’s corporate travel brands will have access to Airbnb’s third party booking tool.

Additionally the travel manager and the employee who is taking the trip, will be able to see trip details, make changes to the reservation, and message the Airbnb host with questions about the listing or neighbourhood.

Andrew Flannery, FCTG’s Executive General Manager of Corporate Travel, said today’s agreement would bolster the company’s award-winning corporate travel offering.

“Customers’ needs and preferences in the corporate travel sector are constantly evolving, and this agreement will deliver interesting new accommodation options that will appeal to sections of our customer base, particularly those who are looking to experience something a little different to a traditional hotel stay,” Mr Flannery said.

“It will also benefit our corporate customers who are travelling to locations where there may currently be an under-supply of suitable hotel rooms.

“We are currently talking with a number of clients about the range of opportunities that Airbnb offers for travellers.”

David Holyoke, Global Director of Business Travel at Airbnb said, “We are thrilled to be working with FCTG’s corporate travel brands, in this sector of the travel industry, and look forward to helping Australian and New Zealand business travellers feel more at home while on the road.

“Airbnb for Business gives business travellers the ability to explore a city like a local, making it easy to travel for work without sacrificing the comforts of home.”

FCTG have run a trial with one of their clients over the last few months and they are already seeing a positive impact for their employees travelling for business using Airbnb, with employees included in the trial rating the experience 4.76 out of 5 stars and with an average daily rate of of $80AUD.

Airbnb listings will be available to Campus Travel and Stage and Screen in the coming weeks, and then progressively introduced soon after to FCM Travel Solutions and Corporate Traveller.

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Fare Reductions, Better In-flight Services and Loyalty Rewards Keep Corporate Travellers Chipper

Corporates have rarely had it so good, with a recent airfare study indicating the price of corporate Economy Class tickets dropped on key international routes in 2016 and fell by as much as 7% on the top domestic routes, according to the latest 4D FOCUS – Australian Aviation and Airfare Analysis.

The report, which was produced by 4th Dimension, Flight Centre Travel Group’s (FCTG) business travel consulting division, includes a benchmarking study that compares the price of corporate and leisure airfares purchased in 2016 compared to airfares purchased in 2015 and 2014.

4D’s analysis of corporate and leisure tickets purchased through the FCTG’s staple of travel brands, demonstrates that Australian travellers continue to see excellent value from the price of their air tickets. Compounding the positive news for travellers is the fact that Australian airlines are heavily focused on improving the whole travel experience – from take-off to touch-down as they vie for customer loyalty.

Since 2014, Qantas has upgraded 100 Airbus A330 and 737 aircraft with new interiors, opened new lounges around the country and the carrier is also on the verge of introducing free high-speed Wi-Fi in the domestic market.

John Simeone, Qantas’ Head of Business and Government Sales, said in the report, “This year, we’re entering a new era with the introduction of free high-speed Wi-Fi in the domestic market and the arrival of Qantas’ first Dreamliner, opening up breakthrough routes like Perth – London.”

Meanwhile in the Virgin Australia camp – the brand has started a three month trial of testing in-flight Wi-Fi on its Boeing 737-800 aircraft. These are but a few of the perks travellers now enjoy when travelling for work or play.

airfare

FCTG Managing Director, Graham Turner, said it’s been positive to see 2016/17 airfares remain competitive.

“Airfares are still extremely affordable for domestic and international travel and I think despite some of the distractions we’re seeing globally – the corporate and leisure travel industry will continue to perform throughout the rest of 2017,” Mr Turner said.

Below is a takeout of some of the key findings in 4D’s report.

Domestic Travel – CORPORATE Economy Class airfare benchmarking

(Based on 2016 fare benchmarking against 2015 fares)

  • Domestic Economy Class price changes for tickets purchased through FCTG’s corporate travel brands ranged from -7% to a 4% increase on key routes
  • Business travellers flying the BNE – MEL and the BNE – PER routes have enjoyed the biggest savings with average purchase price of tickets on both routes falling by 7%
  • Corporates travelling on the CBR – SYD and the MEL – SYD routes struck out on any savings with the average purchase price of tickets increasing up to 4% from 2015 – 2016

Domestic Travel – LEISURE Economy Class airfare benchmarking

(Based on 2016 fare benchmarking against 2015 fares)

  • From 2015 to 2016 the average price of domestic Economy Class leisure fares purchased through FCTG’s leisure division fell by 6%
  • Economy Class price changes for leisure tickets purchased through FCTG’s retail brands ranged from -10% to a 1% increase
  • Big ticket savings for leisure travellers were highlighted on the BNE – SYD route with a 10% reduction on the average purchase price, while tickets purchased through FCTG by leisure travellers flying on the HBA – MEL and the BNE – PER routes dropped by 9%
  • It was only on the MEL – SYD route, where capacity is tightly controlled by airlines due to the high volume of traffic, where travellers didn’t see a price reduction but rather wore a 1% increase on the average price of purchased fares.


Felicity Burke, General Manager, 4th Dimension Business Travel Consulting, said the outcome of the latest research into corporate and leisure fare movement painted an extremely positive picture for companies and smaller businesses, as well as holiday travellers, that have been booking their travel through a travel management company or retail travel agency such as those that fell under FCTG.

“Not only are FCTG’s corporate customers purchasing extremely well-priced fares but they are also getting all the additional value that comes with booking through a travel company such as 24-hour global traveller support, access to experienced consultants that manage their company’s travel policy, travel spend and activity reporting capabilities as well as access to our online booking technology,” Mrs Burke said.

“And the really good news is that this experience is about to get even better for travellers with the likes of Virgin Australia and Qantas both acutely focused on enhancing the traveller experience to grow market share and increase loyalty, particularly in the corporate sector.”

WHAT’S NEW AND CHANGES AHEAD IN 2017

Fare tracking conducted by 4D for first Quarter 2017 indicates a moderate increase of between 3% – 5% in domestic Economy Class fares across both the corporate and leisure buying groups.

Further to this, both the major Australian airlines introduced ‘Days of the Week’ fares late 2016, which has travellers on certain routes, with certain ticket types paying a higher price to fly on Thursday and Friday.

The data collected suggests a definitive shift away from the long-held beliefs of travel buyers – that booking 14-21 days in advance delivers the best deal on the busiest routes. With a likelihood of one in 10 tickets being changed by corporate travellers after a ticket is issued, 4th Dimension highlights that customers should consider the benefits of ‘flexible’ fares to avoid costly change fees.

The report shows the average cost of change charged by the airlines is $165. Internationally, the big changes in 2017 include:

  • Start of non-stop Qantas flights from Perth to London
  • Virgin Australia expanding to Hong Kong and Beijing
  • The opening of Qantas’ flagship international lounge due to open at London Heathrow
  • Qantas adding services to Beijing and Tokyo (Narita) and;
  • Virgin Australia reintroducing a Melbourne to Los Angeles service.

ACCOMMODATION

Strong demand for accommodation
4th Dimension research showed, that in the second half of 2016, there was strong demand for accommodation in Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland, as leisure and business travellers arrived in huge numbers for work, conferences and holidays.

The upshot in demand fuelled accommodation rate rises in those cities, with hotel rates increasing two or three times more than what the traveller paid for flights. Looking ahead to the second half of 2017 and into 2018, room bookings in these metro hot spots are expected to continue, causing demand to outstrip supply in some cases during peak periods.

FAST FACTS


1Source: BITRE, Aviation Domestic Airline Ontime Performance 2016 2Source: CAPA Centre for Aviation 3Published fare year-on-year benchmarking fare change 2016. Source 4D analytics