Thursday, 13 May 2010
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The travel and tourism industry had in 2009, the worst year in decades.
The recession was mainly to blame, but there were other factors such as the Swine Flu panic
and the growing strength of the Euro. The airlines gambled on the price of oil and caught a bad cold resulting in fewer flights and higher air fares. Low cost airlines like Ryan Air benefited in Europe.
British travellers abroad declined by 15.2% with North America suffering most.
The traffic to Mexico dropped sharply as a result of the Swine Flu episode by 41%.
Holidays to Barbados fell by 53% and even popular countries with homes owned by the British felt the pinch. Portugal lost 29%, and the two countries that did well were Egypt and Sri Lanka.
Egypt was seen to offer value and Sri Lanka peace.
2010 started better, as figures from the British Airports Authority suggest. However acts of God and man have conspired to reverse the trend. First we had snow, then a British Airways strike by cabin crew, Volcanic debris from Iceland and now another bout of machismo by Willie Walsh.
Unite, the Trade Union has announced 20 days of strikes, unless management abandons its plans to cut crew numbers and change employment terms.
Supporters of the Chief Executive see him as a strong and astute manager. His opponents claim he has his priorities in the wrong order. The British traveller think that the contest will do British Airways irreparable harm.
So much for "The World's favourite airline"
What lessons can we draw from all these events?
Long haul traffic to the East and Southern hemisphere whilst affected by the British Airways dispute, and the cancellations caused by the Iceland volcano, still represents great potential.
Airlines can learn from the way British Airways handled the two crises in PR terms.
And the adage :"It's an ill wind that doesn't blow somebody some good " still applies.