The List: The 10 who will shape outbound travel
Today we launch the first in a series identifying the key figures in our industry.
Over the coming months, The List will feature some of the most influential and intriguing people in travel.
We won’t just identify the names you know. We’ll bring you the movers and shakers in different sectors in the UK, Europe and around the world – those at the top and the up and coming, the celebrated and the unsung.
We start with a top 10 of people we think will shape the market for the rest of this year and into 2013, by Ian Taylor.
The List is not definitive. There is no one from cruise, no exclusively online retailer, no one from Google, no representative of social media. There is no regulator, accountant or lawyer. Tell us what you think.
Email your suggestions, with brief explanation, to email@example.com and we will publish the best. Write ‘The List’ in the subject line.
Chris Browne, managing director, Thomson Airways
Chris Browne took a risk in 2005 in placing the first UK order for the Boeing 787, the Dreamliner, when she was head of First Choice Airways.
Seven years later, as managing director of Thomson Airways (which merged with First Choice in 2007) Browne is poised to receive the first of those 787s and make Thomson the first UK carrier to fly the aircraft next May. The Dreamliner is expected to transform long-haul flying and Thomson should have four in service for summer 2013.
The company is already taking bookings for holidays with flights on the 787 to Orlando and Cancun from Gatwick, Manchester, EastMidlands and Glasgow. Browne will decide soon on other destinations, with Thailand, Vietnam and South Africa in the frame.
Drew Crawley, commercial director, British Airways
Drew Crawley aims to make hay this autumn as BA’s former rival BMI becomes wholly integrated into its operations, boostingfeeder traffic to Heathrow and giving scope to develop new long-haul routes.
BA has already announced a return to Colombo, Sri Lanka, and additional flights to the US. Crawley will also be at the centre of planning for BA’s first Boeing 787 and its first Airbus 380, both due next year.
He will preside over the commercial partnerships with American Airlines and sister carrier Iberia, and oversee a fresh round of negotiations on distribution deals with GDSs. This summer Crawley accused GDSs of developing at “a snail’s pace” and welcomed a promise of new “distribution standards” from airline association Iata.
John de Vial, head of financial protection, Abta
John de Vial is responsible for Abta’s joint arrangement with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which will license many retailers now acquiring an Atol.
De Vial will be at the heart of setting bonding requirements and other guarantees, and financially monitoring licence-holders.
He will also be key to the next phases of reform: the launch of Atol Certificates in October, discussions with the Department for Transport and CAA on future financing and management of consumer protection, and consultation on bringing airline sales of holidays and agent-for-consumer sales into Atol.
De Vial and his colleagues will also be involved, with his Abta colleagues, in framing the sector’s response to proposed changes to the European Package Travel Directive.
Mario Draghi, president, European Central Bank
Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank (ECB), will be the man who props up or pulls the plug on Greek membership of the euro – and perhaps the memberships of Portugal, Spain and others.
Every statement by Draghi will be pored over by analysts. The fact that the financial markets went calmly into the August bank holiday was largely due to Draghi’s statement in early August: “The ECB is ready to do whatever it takes.”
The Bank’s actions will go a long way to set the euro exchange rate, which has so far benefited UK travellers this summer. But Draghi won’t decide the fate of the euro alone: he will do so in conflict with Chancellor Merkel of Germany, who faces increasing domestic hostility to further bailouts.
Harriet Green, chief executive, Thomas Cook
New Thomas Cook chief executive Harriet Green has the task of turning around the best-known name in the industry.
Green was recruited for her record in online distribution – her background is in electronic components – and experience in handling City investors. Wooing the City will go a long way to deciding whether Green succeeds.
But first she needs to nurse Thomas Cook through November when cash demands on the group may once more bring it perilously close to collapse. Green will report results for the year to September that she can do almost nothing to affect.
She will oversee capacity, head the largest UK high street travel agency chain and preside over yet another review of the UK business. Expect change to be brisk.
Johan Lundgren, deputy chief executive, Tui Travel
Johan Lundgren heads Tui Travel’s mainstream sector, and is heir apparent to industry veteran and chief executive Peter Long when he steps aside.
Lundgren will set overall capacity from the UK at a group that dominates the market. Having acquired his tour operating experience in Scandinavia, Lundgren has shown discipline in constraining capacity, maintaining price and developing exclusivity through the most-difficult market in the UK industry’s history.
There is no reason to expect great change from Tui Travel in the coming months, unless leading shareholder, Germany’s Tui AG, moves to take a greater share of the company it created. Tui Travel will dominate tour operating and retail – in resort, on the high street and on the web.
Michel O’Leary, chief executive, Ryanair
Michael O’Leary heads Europe’s biggest carrier and is unlikely to let us forget it. He will have more influence than most on where people fly.
A growing number of destinations are finding working with Ryanair a mixed blessing as the carrier issues serial accusations of betrayals on cost and marketing agreements.
Expect a blizzard of new routes and withdrawals as O’Leary grounds 80-odd of his 300 aircraft this winter. O’Leary will continue a vendetta against retailers it accuses of screenscraping, yet ought to realise some agents sell more Ryanair flights than others.
He will find new ways to impose charges, no doubt maintaining charges for bank cards, and ignore all bad publicity while at some point signing the world’s biggest order for aircraft.
George Osborne, chancellor
George Osborne doesn’t just determine policy on the economy and tax (including APD) he is in charge of Tory party strategy.
It is Osborne pushing for a U-turn on airport expansion and, as Tory strategist, along with David Cameron, will decide the roles of ministers in a reshuffled cabinet. He will deliver the Autumn Statement, setting tax and spending for next year.
Government policy affects spending by business and households, so Osborne will be the man responsible (or to blame). The health or otherwise of the economy and political fallout over airport expansion will go a long way to deciding whether the coalition survives until 2015. Osborne is also responsible for how fervently Revenue & Customs pursues businesses for tax, including VAT.
Julie Southern, chief commercial office, Virgin Atlantic
Julie Southern is less well known publicly than Richard Branson and Virgin Atlantic chief Steve Ridgway, but she is a key figure at the carrier and poised to play an increasingly important role as Virgin moves to operate domestic, short and medium-haul services.
Virgin’s ability to punch above its weight will never be more needed than in the next few months as the carrier competes with British Airways at Heathrow with barely 3.5% of the airport’s slots compared with BA’s 54%.
Expect a vigorous Virgin campaign to win all 12 slot pairs BA must give up as a condition of its takeover of BMI. Plans for a Virgin shuttle between Manchester and Heathrow, a code-share with Moscow-based Transaero and growing partnership with US Airways are signs of more to come.
Olaf Swantee, chief executive, Everything Everywhere
Olaf Swantee won’t ring many bells in travel. But Everything Everywhere could be poised to transform the mobile web experience. UK regulator Ofcom has just given a green light to the company, comprising Orange and T-Mobile, to launch 4th generation (4G) mobile services in September.
Rivals Vodafone and O2 must wait a year for an auction of airwaves and are not happy. 4G offers speeds five to seven times faster than current networks and an enhanced experience on smartphones and tablets.
The transition is touted as the biggest shift in the sector in a decade. The new Apple iPhone and latest Samsung Galaxy should work over Swantee’s network. Booking via 4G will be faster and easier and travel firms will need to adapt.
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