DALLAS — This year has without a doubt been a momentous year for aviation, with a sharp increase in travel demand allowing the industry to start returning to pre-pandemic levels.
As the business of the industry resumed, Airways had the opportunity to talk with industry leaders and the like about the industry’s goings. In this article, we take a look at the most-viewed interviews of the year, from major Taiwanese carriers to Caribbean low-cost airlines.
In the most-viewed interview of the year, Siddharth Ganesh sits down to talk with EVA Air (BR) president Clay Sun. Sun touched on a multitude of topics, perhaps the most memorable being the airline’s plan to phase out its older Boeing 777-300ERs with the more efficient Boeing 787 Dreamliner. After this, Sun went on to talk about how BR was considering the latest generation of both long-haul and short-haul aircraft, with feasible options for replacement being from Airbus and Boeing.
According to Sun, “service quality and safety are woven into our foundation.” This should be reflected in BR’s aims of providing a new premium economy class to their fleet in 2024. The Taiwanese airline was the first ever to introduce a premium economy class onboard their aircraft in 1992. The new premium economy product should contain increased privacy and more comfortable personal space, among other features.
Route expansion was a key focus of the interview, with Taiwan’s second-largest airline eyeing destinations on the US East Coast as possible new routes. Regarding the airline’s secondary base in Bangkok, EVA’s president mentioned the prospect of new routes but said that securing landing slots was a hard task. The legacy carrier plans to gain more access into Europe using its fleet of Dreamliners while using the largest type, the Boeing 787-10, on Asian routes due to its limited range.
Just a mere two weeks before one of the largest stories of the year emerged, Hawaiian’s (HA) planned merger with Alaska Airlines (AS), Brent Foster caught up with Hawaiian CEO Peter Ingram. In the interview, Ingram shared his excitement for the new Boeing 787s currently on order for HA, hinting at a detailed focus on premium products. This will take the form of a larger front cabin and an increase in the number of premium economy seats on the aircraft.
Ingram then went on to talk about the backbone of Hawaiian Airlines’ fleet, the Boeing 717. To Ingram, the Boeing 717 “has been an almost perfect aircraft for us.” The Boeing 717 has been such a valuable aircraft to HA due to its capacity being just right for inter-Island routes. However, the Boeing 717 is ultimately going to need a replacement, something that HA has taken its time to consider. According to the airline’s CEO, there has been mention of a replacement being one of the Airbus A320ceo family, or when looking at in-production aircraft, an Airbus A220 or Embraer E195-E2.
Commercial operations have not been the only workings of the O’ahu-based carrier recently, as the airline has taken up a cargo contract with popular e-commerce company Amazon. The airline is reportedly “off to a successful start” with this task, using Airbus A330-300s for cargo flights. Over the next 12 months, HA is planning on having a ten-wide fleet of cargo-configured aircraft, hoping to “deliver good performance for Amazon.”
Fresh from United’s turbulent merger with Continental in 2015, Oscar Munoz took the helm of the airline to reshape its operations. In the second interview by Brent Foster on this list, Munoz discusses how the airline’s business model competed with others in the dawn of low-cost carriers, amongst several other topics.
The former United CEO and chairman shows how he managed to steer the airline through rough times by introducing the values of a company that listens to its customers and employees.
Founder of one of the leading airlines in the Caribbean, Víctor Pacheco wants to change the way that we see low-cost travel in the Americas. In an exclusive interview with Airways, Pacheco told Brent Foster that he wants passengers to connect via Santo Domingo when traveling between the two continents. Because of the Dominican Republic’s geographical location on the western side of the continent, the Santo Domingo-based carrier’s CEO argues that it allows for a 20% reduction in flight time. This then means that Arajet can save money by needing 20% less fuel, allowing the carrier to thrive.
The Dominican airline’s fleet of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft allows for such a business model, with Pacheco stating that he was “a proud MAX operator.” The low-cost carrier has begun utilizing the Boeing 737 MAX’s extensive range, planning on operating deep into North and South America. This has taken the form of flights to Chile, Argentina, and Canada The continental US is soon to follow once the airline receives its long-awaited permission from the US Department of Transportation.
Catering to a sharp increase in demand after the pandemic, Lufthansa (LH) decided to return its Airbus A380s to the fleet in June. The aircraft type had been parked due to the pandemic and was set to retire soon after. Marty Basaria had the opportunity to talk with some of the carrier’s American team: Tal Muscal, Director of Communications for the Americas, and Dirk Janzen, Vice President of Sales in the Americas.
According to Janzen, the German flag carrier expects “a full recovery by 2024” after the increase in leisure travel, particularly with premium products. The travel boom was combined with a delay in deliveries for LH, meaning that it is uncertain when these aircraft will be fully retired. This means that Lufthansa “definitely plans at least several more years with the A380.”
Several advantages come with the Airbus A380, but to Janzen, one of the most important is the number of premium products available on the Airbus A380. The A380 is unmatched in its number of seats, meaning that it is perfect when it comes to strong-demand routes. Combined with the other members of the Lufthansa group, this high demand when traveling from Europe to the US should make for a speedy recovery.
These top five interviews of 2023 have allowed us to delve deeper into the minds of prominent figures in the aviation industry. From CEOs to industry experts, each interview has provided valuable insights and perspectives that have captivated our readers. We extend our gratitude to the interviewees for their time and willingness to share their knowledge and experiences. As we look ahead, we are excited to bring you more engaging and enlightening interviews in the coming year.
Stay tuned for more thought-provoking conversations and exclusive insights from Airways.
Featured Image: Eva Air. Photo: Luca Flores/Airways