Conference & Meetings World Supplements Airline Supplement - Page 3

Airline Supplement Up in the air T he global meeting industry’s fortunes are generally intertwined with those of the air travel industry. So, as we head into 2016, how is this relationship working out and what are the different airline alliances all about? With airfares continuing to fall, along with the price of oil, surely the only big pressure on airline use is from the environmental lobby? Air passenger numbers are set to grow dramatically, if IATA’s 20 year Passenger Forecast Report is correct in its analysis that air passenger numbers will double by 2034, from a 2015 total of 3.5bn to 7bn taking to the skies annually within 20 years. The report also predicts the largest passenger markets will be China, the United States, India, the UK and Indonesia, Japan, Brazil, Spain, Germany and France make up the rest of the top 10. The five fastest growth markets for additional passengers over the next 20 years will be China with 758m new customers, the United States at 523m, India is to have 275m and fourth and fifth are Indonesia and Brazil with 132m and 104m, respectively. And, as the demand for air transport continues to grow, business travellers and conference delegates are sure make up a good share of that 7bn figure. Asia-Pacific and the Middle East, the report says, are expected to have 4.9% growth, with 2.9bm and 383m passengers, respectively. Africa could grow by 4.7% with 294m passengers by 2034. Latin American should also grow by 4.7% for an annual passenger total of 605m in 20 years time. Europe will grow the slowest at 2.7% for a market of 1.4bn, while North America expands by 3.3% to also reach 1.4bn. In the next 20 years, Expedia is forecasting that the real cost of air travel could drop by up to 1.5% per year. Maybe our large international venues and PCOs will be employing the mathematicians to work out where they need to target their marketing in future? Consumer surveys, meanwhile, have shown that the most important factor in buying an airline ticket is price. An average 8% drop in world airfares during the first 10 months of 2015, as reported by Expedia, did not seem to result in happier passengers, as complaints against airlines are on the rise. The US Department of Transportation alone received over 10,000 complaints against US-based airlines in the first 10 months of 2015, a rise of over a quarter on the same period last year. Passengers’ rights groups claim the discontent is because airlines continue to charge high fees to check bags and change reservations while packing more passengers into smaller seats. Whether you are paying less and complaining more, or the reverse, it is worth knowing how the major airlines now line up in their various alliances. CONFERENCE & MEETINGS WORLD CMW-AIRLINE-SUPP_2.indd 3 3 23/12/2015 15:45