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Low-cost carriers alter strategy to reach agents

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Travelport: Ryanair’s bid to woo trade is not short-term tactic

The changing world of the airline sector dominated some of the panel debate between the industry’s top leaders at a recent Travel Network Group conference in Croatia. Looking at the changing tactics of Ryanair, which has recently started to be sold through GDS systems, industry leaders were asked if they believed this attempt to reach out to the trade was a short-term ploy.

“I don’t think so,” said Simon Ferguson, UK and Ireland managing director of Travelport. “Who would have thought they would come back and embrace travel agents? But with the airline orders they have in place for the future, Ryanair will need to attract a different type of passenger than they have done before. If they take a short-term view, they’ll get a short-term response.”

He added: “Easyjet has changed its model – more than 20% of its customers are business travellers, and Norwegian is trying to make the low-cost model work on long-haul. The market is changing.”

Agents are needed now more than ever to fill the ever-increasing capacity created by airlines, with predictions there could be up to 33,000 new planes in the sky within the next 30 years. “We’re going to need travel agents to fill these seats,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ferguson noted the changing business models of airlines, which have started charging customers for seat numbers and hold baggage.

“The airline industry has predicted they will make $45 billion in selling seats and bags as extras – that’s almost the annual gross domestic product of Croatia, which is $53 billion. Surely there is a space for travel agents to tap into this market?”

TTG Digital

[photo courtesy Ryanair]

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