We look at which major players and issues will be top of the agenda within business travel as well as the wider transport and infrastructure sectors during 2014 and beyond
Return to Hotlist 2014 home page
Senior Vice-President, Industry Distribution and Financial Services, IATA
Popovich has the monumental task of promoting the International Air Transport Association’s controversial New Distribution Capability (NDC) to the business travel sector.
The problem so far is the lack of detail and consultation on a technological project which IATA says will create an “Amazon-style” personalised shopping experience. Buyers and TMCs are waiting with bated breath to assess the full scale and impact of NDC – particularly with the pilot phase of the project due to run throughout 2014.
Popovich is sure to face pointed questions at conferences and other events about the true intentions of IATA, particularly over the potential profiling of corporate travellers and the kind of direct marketing to them that’s the stuff of buyers’ nightmares.
Will NDC be the death knell of comparison shopping for airfares and the corporate deal, or is it an elaborate way for IATA to beat down GDS fees? Popovich and his boss, IATA executive director Tony Tyler, will be expected to supply the answers sooner rather than later.
Anybody who thought that the agreement reached by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), to create a global carbon emissions trading scheme (ETS) for aviation, would put an end to arguments over the subject are likely to be disappointed. The deal will eventually create a framework for a global ETS for airlines by 2016, with implementation scheduled for 2020.
But what happens during the six-year interim period is where disagreements begin, with the European Union (EU) determined to continue with its own regional ETS by starting to charge non-EU airlines for their emissions within European airspace from January 1, 2014 – despite this being struck out of the ICAO agreement.
This move by the EU has already provoked the ire of politicians in the US who said it “violates the spirit and the letter” of the ICAO deal. In any case, President Obama signed the ETS Prohibition Act, which makes it illegal for US airlines to comply with EU ETS, into law in 2012.
The EU has played an admirable game of brinkmanship to help create a global agreement for an airline ETS. Now we will find out how hard the EU wants to push this regional scheme in the next few months – expect some turbulence ahead.
Sir Howard Davies
Chairman, Airports Commission
Davies and his fellow commission members were last year bombarded with more than 50 suggestions on how to increase hub air capacity in the south-east – mainly from airports and other interested parties including some individuals.
Most of these inevitably fell on deaf ears as Davies’ Airports Commission last month opted for a predictable shortlist of three: a new runway at Heathrow or Gatwick, plus the extension of one of Heathrow’s existing two runways (an independent suggestion which even the airport is lukewarm about).
The Boris Island proposal for a hub airport in the Thames estuary has not been totally dismissed yet, but even London Mayor Boris Johnson must have lost some confidence over this pet project.
The real work starts now for Davies and his commission as they begin assessing the shortlisted options and making a final recommendation to the government. This report is not due to be released until 2015.
Also crucial is how the major parties decide to handle the issue in the lead-up to the general election in the next 18 months and, particularly, in their manifestos – will they all pledge to support Davies’ final proposal or not? This political football is set to be kicked around for some time yet.
Chair, HS2 Growth Taskforce
If Lord Deighton thought that organising the London Olympics as chief executive of LOCOG (London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games) was a tough job, then selling the benefits of the High Speed 2 (HS2) rail project is set to be an even more challenging task.
The much vaunted £42.6 billion project (at least, this is the current estimated cost) has become even more of a political football in recent months, with Labour’s Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls saying there will be “no blank cheque” for the rail line from London to Birmingham, and then further north in its second phase.
Deighton, who is commercial secretary to the Treasury, has been touring the country to stress the importance of the project and how economic benefits, including new jobs, can be maximised by HS2.
He is promising a “relentless focus on unlocking the huge economic potential of this historic project” – but will he be able to help silence the growing number of HS2’s critics?