Good morning from Skift. It’s Wednesday, April 24, in New York City. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.
Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast examines why JetBlue is optimistic about a summer rebound, why some tour companies are sticking with masks, and how Carnival Corp.’s CEO is wrapping up his tenure
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JetBlue Airways hasn’t had a lot of good news to celebrate recently. The carrier canceled about 10 percent of its schedule during the first three weeks of April and it’s still grappling with a pilot shortage. But executives at the New York-based airline are projecting a significant growth in revenue this summer, writes Airlines Reporter Edward Russell.
JetBlue President Joanna Geraghty said at the company’s first-quarter earnings call on Tuesday that the carrier is set to generate its highest ever quarterly revenue in the second quarter. JetBlue forecasts between an 11 and 16 percent increase in revenue from the same timeframe three years ago, which Russell writes is a result of airlines charging higher fares. The company is also buoyed by major growth in its ancillary revenue during the first quarter — a 70 percent jump compared to the same period in 2019. Ancillary revenue, which are fees for upgrades such as an extra legroom seat and priority boarding, have generated more money for some carriers than the sale of flight tickets.
However, JetBlue reported a net loss of $255 million for the first quarter. And despite its forecast of record revenue, the carrier expects a second quarter loss as unit costs excluding fuel are expected to jump at least 15 percent compared to 2019. Meanwhile, executives offered few details on its surprise bid for low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines.
Next, travel companies are increasingly waiving mask mandates for customers and staff following a U.S. federal judge’s decision to void such requirements on public transportation. But tour operators are keeping mask mandates for their trips in place despite objections from some travelers about having to wear masks, reports Editorial Assistant Rashaad Jorden.
Tour operators such as the Globus family of brands aren’t dropping their mask requirements because they run trips to destinations where masks are required for public transportation and entry for locations such as theaters, music venues and concert halls. Steve Born, the company’s chief marketing officer, cited Italy — a country where it conducts tours — as a destination that has maintained strict mask wearing rules for indoor settings.
Tour operator executives also acknowledged they’ve dealt with pushback from customers regarding mask mandates. Christine Petersen, the CEO of smarTours, said she’s had to insist to guests on her company’s trips that they follow its rules about mask wearing.
We end today with a major shakeup at Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest cruise company. Carnival announced on Tuesday that Arnold Donald is stepping down as president and CEO, reports Corporate Travel Editor Matthew Parsons.
Chief Operations Officer Josh Weinstein will replace Donald, who will become Carnival’s vice chair and a member of the board of directors effective August 1. Parsons writes it’s unclear if a dispute surrounding Donald’s pay package drove the decision to change leadership. Carnival faced a shareholder revolt this month over Donald’s pay, with 36 percent voting against giving the CEO a total package of roughly $15 million for the year through November 2021. That figure was an increase from the previous two years.
The move comes as Carnival, like other cruise lines, is still struggling to recover from the pandemic. The company posted an almost $2 billion quarterly loss last December and its share value has tumbled 34 percent in the past year.
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