YEAR IN REVIEW
Key moments in travel and hospitality in 2017
ANS, BANS AND MORE BANS If it wasn’t travel bans it was laptop bans which created chaos for airports, airlines and executive travellers. There wasn’t much to smile about but three cheers for Royal Jordanian, who turned negatives into positives with a series of amusing ads.
ANCILLARY REVS TAKE OFF
Emirates introduced an amended advance seat selection policy, with economy passengers facing charges of up to $135 per flight to select the most sought-after seats (free advance selection for first and business). Paid-for lounge access was another key move as Skywards Blue members could pay to access the airline’s Dubai lounges, and the airline tweaked its wifi prices.
A YEAR FOR PRODUCT
Every carrier will say service is their primary focus but 2017 saw no end of product investments and upgrades. New seats and onboard lounges reflected an insatiable desire for differentiation and even the humble amenity kit received attention as airlines spent on new pyjamas, moisturising creams and kit bags.
HERE WE GO AGAIN
Arabian Travel Market 2017 felt like a return to 2007, what with 2,000-room ‘golfotel’ projects, ambitious masterplans and bulging hotel pipelines. In reality, the year was dogged by RevPar and economic pressures, unprecedented consolidation and macro political and security concerns.
SUSTAINABILITY IN ACTION
Dubai added 50 Tesla electric vehicles to the limo fleet of Dubai Taxi Corporation and RTA announced futuristic self- Etihad Airways’ CEO James Hogan stepped down and Air Berlin collapsed amid much scrutiny of Etihad’s equity-buying strategies and all eyes will be on new Etihad Aviation Group CEO Tony Douglas to see how the next phase pans out – we’re told the Midfield Terminal Complex has been delayed until 2019. The UAE capital ended the year on a high though with Louvre Abu Dhabi opening to much acclaim.
100 UP FOR EMIRATES
Emirates powered on and received its landmark 100th superjumbo in November, and ordered 40 B787 Dreamliners at the Dubai Airshow. As always, filling the big planes and maximising yields will preoccupy EGHQ in the months ahead.
BLEISURE AND BALANCE
driving air taxis. When I visited Airbus’ Toulouse site, I saw a presentation on the CityAirbus flying taxi. This isn’t sci-fi; change is definitely in the air.
Etihad teamed up with Lufthansa while Emirates and flydubai formed a codeshare as airlines remained fixated with costs and yields. Marriott continued the nitty-gritty of integrating 5,000 hotels and loyalty programmes following the Starwood merger.
MIXED YEAR FOR ABU DHABI
There may be unending challenges at work but more of us are making time to relax during trips. It may sound cool to multi-task but your brain can only do one thing at a time so keep striving for balance in 2018. Your phone is important but not your life; choose experiences over possessions.