Sir Tim Clark kicks off ATM Virtual with realistic outlook for the aviation sector

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  • President of Emirates believes demand for air travel could come back at a ‘staggering rate’ by Q4 2021, if the vaccine programme beats the virus
  • Aviation, regional tourism, destinations and technology some of the key topics discussed on the first day of ATM Virtual 2021

Following last week’s in-person Arabian Travel Market the Middle East’s largest travel and tourism showcase, continued this week with the opening today (Monday 24 May 2021) of ATM Virtual.

Under the same theme of ‘A new dawn for travel & tourism’, the three-day event, which was specifically designed for those industry professionals unable to attend the in-person ATM event, kicked off this year with Sir Tim Clark, President of Emirates, who gave a candid outlook about the recovery of the aviation industry.

During a virtual conversation with top aviation consultant, John Strickland, who conducted the interview from London, Sir Tim initially gave his opinion on the recovery timescale of the aviation sector.

“The ideal situation is that the vaccine programme beats the virus by Autumn of this year and we get some relief then demand will come back at a staggering rate. Low cost (airlines) will benefit from intra-European travel, the US domestic market, China’s domestic market and international travel will (also) return in large numbers,” said Sir Tim. 

“But the problem (with this scenario) will be twofold. The ability of airlines to meet the demand when it comes and two, the conditionality of country access requirements,” he added.

On the latter point, Sir Tim explained that even though there is massive pent-up demand, there may well be inhibitors too. Some passengers might be nervous and worried about variant strains of the Coronavirus, the situation in India he said is creating a ripple effect across the global economy. 

Although airlines and airports had really worked hard to ‘sanitise’ how they managed passenger welfare, mitigating risk through their protocols, that alone would not be enough. 

“It’s a question of how we navigate the next six months and if we do it right with equitable vaccine distribution, testing regimes simplified and made cheaper, all of this lends to the theory that by the end of the year, we’ll be back in business in some scale,” he said.

Sir Tim then moved on to talk about business travel and said: “Business travel will return in absolute terms, but segments will change. Airlines will have to adapt to the changing nature of demand. An a la carte menu for business class which allows you to pick and choose products at various price points that go with it, is a smart idea.”

When Strickland asked about the longer outlook for aviation, Sir Tim ended on a defiant and positive note. “In the fullness of time it will all (Coronavirus) go away it will be history.” 

Elsewhere on the programme IATA’s Director General Willie Walsh gave a keynote interview, once again with John Strickland and explored the priority issues on Willie Walsh’s agenda and talked about how IATA needed to drive the engagement and consistency of approach to permit airlines to begin the process of recovery. 

The Saudi Arabia Tourism Summit also returned virtually today (Monday 24 May) to take an exclusive look at the future of Saudi’s hotel landscape. With the long-term tourism outlook more bullish than ever, hotel industry heavyweights including Accor’s TIMEA CEO Mark Willis, Hassan Ahdab, President of Hotels Operations for Dur Hospitality, and Christopher Lund, Director, Head of Hotels, MENA Region, Colliers International, discussed the vast potential for new and innovative hospitality concepts that could keep pace with demand from fast-changing guest demographics.

Later in the week at ATM Virtual 2021, the ATM Hotel Industry Summit will examine hospitality trends such as wellness and sustainability. 

The third day of ATM Virtual on Wednesday 26 May, will include highlights such as Cultural Tourism for Growth and Responsible Technology for Travel & Tourism sessions, as well as the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) Conference taking place at 2 pm to 5:45 pm GST, with the theme, Ready.Safe.Travel. 

The Middle East Tourism Investment Summit organised by ITIC in partnership with Arabian Travel Market 2021 will also take place virtually on 27 May.

To view the keynote interview on demand or any other content, please register here. If you are already registered, simply click here.

For the full virtual conference programme, please visit: https://bit.ly/34fDJWl

About Arabian Travel Market (ATM)

Arabian Travel Market (ATM), now on its 28th year, continues to be the focal point for the Middle East’s resilient and ever-changing travel and tourism landscape and prides itself on being the hub of all travel and tourism ideas, providing a platform to discuss insights on the ever-changing industry, share innovations and unlock endless business opportunities. Arabian Travel Market is part of Arabian Travel Week. www.wtm.com/atm/en-gb.html #IdeasArriveHere

In-person event: Sunday 16 to Wednesday 19 May 2021, Dubai World Trade Centre, Dubai 

Virtual event: Monday 24 to Wednesday 26 May 2021

About Arabian Travel Week

Arabian Travel Week is a festival of events taking place within and alongside Arabian Travel Market 2021. It includes ATM Virtual, Arival Dubai and Travel Forward – a new travel tech and hospitality innovation event launching this year. It also features the ATM Buyer Forums, the International Travel & Investment Conference (ITIC) Summit, Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) forum, as well as the Saudi and China Summits. Providing a renewed focus for the Middle East’s travel and tourism sector, Arabian Travel Week will take place in Dubai from Sunday 16th to Thursday 26th May 2021.  www.wtm.com/arabian-travel-week/en-gb.html

About Reed Exhibitions Global

Reed Exhibitions is a leading global events business. It combines face-to-face with data and digital tools to help customers learn about markets, source products and complete transactions at over 400 events in 22 countries across 43 industry sectors, attracting more than 7 million participants. Our events leverage industry expertise, large data sets and technology to enable our customers to connect face-to-face or digitally and generate billions of dollars of revenues for the economic development of local markets and national economies around the world. Reed Exhibitions is part of RELX, a global provider of information-based analytics for professional and business customers. 

About RELX

RELX is a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers. The Group serves customers in more than 180 countries and has offices in about 40 countries. It employs over 33,000 people, of whom almost half are in North America. The shares of RELX PLC, the parent company, are traded on the London, Amsterdam and New York Stock Exchanges using the following ticker symbols: London: REL; Amsterdam: REN; New York: RELX.  The market capitalisation is approximately £33bn, €39bn, $47bn.*

*Note: Current market capitalisation can be found at http://www.relx.com/investors

About World Travel Market

World Travel Market (WTM) Portfolio comprises leading travel events, online portals and virtual platforms across four continents, generating more than $7.5 billion of industry deals. The events are:

WTM London, the leading global event for the travel industry, is the must-attend three-day exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry. Around 50,000 senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international media visit ExCeL London every November, generating over £3.71 billion in travel industry contracts. 

Next event: Monday 1 November to 3 November 2021 at ExCel Londo

WTM Virtual, is the WTM Portfolio virtual platform, created to offer global delegates the chance to arrange one-to-one virtual meetings, to do business, attend conference sessions and roundtables, take part in speed networking and more. WTM Virtual embrace the global leading travel shows in one platform.

WTM Latin America attracts around 19,000 participants – 11,586 unique. The trade show, which takes place in São Paulo, has a worldwide audience that meets to establish the direction of the travel industry. The event is recognised for attracting a high level of professionals from the segment, including buyers and travel agents. It also offers programmes with qualified content and plenty of opportunities for networking and generating business that is relevant to the travel industry.

Next event: Tuesday 3 to Thursday 5 August 2021 – Expo Center Norte, São Pauo

WTM Africa launched in 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa. More than 6,000 travel industry professionals attend Africa’s leading inbound and outbound travel and tourism market. WTM Africa delivers a proven mix of hosted buyers, media, pre-scheduled appointments, on-site networking, evening functions and invited travel trade visitors.

Cape Town International Convention Centre, Cape Town