Unique Contributions

The future of air travel

July 05, 2021 RELX Season 2 Episode 10
Unique Contributions
The future of air travel
Chapters
Unique Contributions
The future of air travel
Jul 05, 2021 Season 2 Episode 10
RELX

A sea change is occurring within the air travel industry. From last minute bookings to reduced business travel and new efficiencies aligned to sustainability targets, new travel patterns are emerging. Which of these will remain permanent beyond the pandemic and how will the industry rebuild better? In this 10th and final episode of Season 2, YS Chi speaks with Jeremy Bowen, CEO of Cirium, who shares his thoughts and insights on how this resilient air travel industry can come back stronger, greener and more efficient.

This podcast is brought to you by RELX.

Show Notes Transcript

A sea change is occurring within the air travel industry. From last minute bookings to reduced business travel and new efficiencies aligned to sustainability targets, new travel patterns are emerging. Which of these will remain permanent beyond the pandemic and how will the industry rebuild better? In this 10th and final episode of Season 2, YS Chi speaks with Jeremy Bowen, CEO of Cirium, who shares his thoughts and insights on how this resilient air travel industry can come back stronger, greener and more efficient.

This podcast is brought to you by RELX.

YS Chi:

The Unique Contributions podcast is brought to you by RELX. Find out more about us by visiting RELX.com

Jeremy Bowen:

We've got a lot of people within the industry that say that once you get the jet fuel, the aviation fuel in your blood, it never leaves you. I've seen people leave the industry, try something and then come back in. And I get it.

YS Chi:

Hello, and welcome to our second series of unique contributions, a RELX podcast. I'm YS Chi and I'll be exploring with my guests some of the big issues that matter to society, how they're making a difference, and what brought them to where they are today. Today, I'm excited to be joined by Jez Bowen, who is the CEO of Cirium. As you may know, Cirium is a data and analytics leader in the travel and aviation industries. It handles 300 terabytes of aviation analytics, covering everything from airline schedules and routes to aircraft configuration and passenger numbers. It goes without saying that the industry has recently experienced very turbulent times. Looking beyond the pandemic, I'll be asking Jez what is the future of air travel and what does the road to recovery look like? Jez, thanks for joining me today. It's great to have you. I know this last year has been quite the roller coaster. How have things been for you during the past few months?

Jeremy Bowen:

Hi YS and delighted to join. I think all things considered, it's been okay. I've got used to working from home. I have been used to travelling a lot, very much like yourself with work and now that I don't have to commute three hours into London City every day, the commute has very much changed. I think we've all got used to it. My kids are slightly older than most. I've got a 17 year old and a 12 year old. So I haven't had to endure the home schooling that a lot of our colleagues have. I think relatively it has been okay, I'm missing the interaction of the office. But I think we've all got used to it now that working from home.

YS Chi:

Well Jez, don't get too used to it. Because we do need that interaction, don't we?

Jeremy Bowen:

I completely and utterly agree. Ironically, I've been in the office this week a couple of days. And there's a couple of people in and it's so much different communicating with people face to face than it is on the screen as it's been for the last 15 months. So I do miss it.

YS Chi:

Yes, I think we're gonna have a hybrid world soon.

Jeremy Bowen:

Yeah, absolutely. And I think that will work. I know lots of people are itching to get back in the office. We just need to make sure that everyone feels safe, everyone feels comfortable. But I think we are missing that human interaction and that creativity and spark that it does within the teams.

YS Chi:

So, you became CEO of Cirium in 2019, April to be precise, when it was announced. A short year before the pandemic hit and then lived through the most trying times, perhaps the aviation and travel industries have ever seen. Now that can't be easy. I remember a quote during the announcement and you said, it's a privilege to lead the company at this moment in its evolution. I'm sure you had no idea what you really were facing. So, how have you found it?

Jeremy Bowen:

That is an understatement YS. It's certainly been a steep learning curve. It's my first CEO role. The word that's used within the industry and it's been used a lot is unprecedented. The crisis and the challenge has been unprecedented. I think now, to where we are, we've got green shoots in the industry. It's going to take time, but things are starting to recover. We started to see the schedules fill again. But I think back to what we inherited 12 months ago, or 13 months ago when the world stopped. The industry literally went into meltdown. We'd never faced it before. Our clients had never faced it before. Our employees and associates haven't faced it before. So when we looked at our teams, they had to cope with working from home. They also had to cope with obviously being concerned about health and their loved ones. And also opening the papers every day or seeing on the news every day of mass furloughs and mass redundancies all the way across aviation. Genuinely people in Cirium of our 500 employees were worried about their futures and worried about what we'd be doing as a business. So as a new CEO, we had to very quickly put in place a communication plan. We communicated openly. We communicated often. We spoke to a lot of people in all different forms of mediums, town halls, video updates, just really to allay everyone's concerns. To just very focus on on three priorities and that first priority was that our employees and their families are the number one importance. That's the most important thing. Look after yourself and look after your family members. The second one was looking after our clients. The aviation industry is very insular. Everyone relies on each other to be successful. We wouldn't have a business if the airlines and the travel sector didn't exist. The industry has been through this before, they have been through challenging times before, and they look after each other. So our second priority was to make sure we look after our clients. We did, very much reached out. Some of them were going through financial distress. And that third part was taking the opportunity to rebuild better. It sounds a little bit of a cliche, but we had the opportunity to continue investing in Cirium. There's a phrase within the UK when the factory shut down, called 'retooling the factory.' We spent the time to retool Cirium. To build that better so that when the market comes back, we're better positioned to be able to help those clients rebuild and return to normal. So it was a challenging topic. I wasn't expecting it when I first picked up the role of the job that was for sure.

YS Chi:

Yeah. We're going to get to the industry a little later. But if you would let us learn a little more about you Jez. So you're currently obviously living in UK in the outskirts of London. But I know you also started living and working down somewhere on the opposite end, in New Zealand and Australia. What were you doing down there?

Jeremy Bowen:

Yeah, that's a good question. My early career YS, in fact my first role and I stayed with them for almost 15 years was with Dun & Bradstreet. The global data analytics company. I've spent 11 years in the UK. I joined straight out of college, customer service, sales, senior sales, sales management. I was following that sales path and had the opportunity to move out to Sydney, Australia and manage a sales team. It was before my wife and I had kids so we jumped at the opportunity. What we thought we'd do for two years. We headed down and literally flew on my 30th birthday and then thought we'd come back two years later. We ended up spending five years in Australia and New Zealand. After 18 months, I had the opportunity to become the general manager of Dun & Bradstreet, New Zealand.

YS Chi:

Oh, that was quick.

Jeremy Bowen:

Yeah, it was. Everyone looks at their career and there's a defining moment when they grow up and they start to kind of understand how it all fits together. That was my time. I had never visited the country. I had 50 staff, two offices. My boss was four hours away and on an aircraft. She was an inspirational CEO, she was very much an external CEO. She's quite a thought leader and a business leader within the high profile, within Australia now.

YS Chi:

I love the fact that you say she.

Jeremy Bowen:

Yes, she was she was inspirational. She said, I trust you. That's why I've given you the job. If you need me ring me, if not I'm going to leave you to it. I had a fantastic 18 months, we worked with a really great team. Even now I look back at that 18 months. I've never worked with a group who was so 'can do' in their attitude, nothing fazed them and we had a good time growing the business. We then as a global or as a combined Australia and New Zealand leadership team, we did a management buyout from the DB Corporation on the Australia New Zealand operations. So it was my first experience of working under private equity. Then I was asked to come back to Australia, this time to Melbourne to head up our debt recovery business. It was the largest part of our business. We put 200 people in call centres, collecting consumer debt seven days a week. Very entrepreneurial, good fun. I learned a massive amount. So we ended up staying five years and then my wife fell pregnant. We suddenly realised we were a long way from home and so my first daughter was born in in Melbourne, and then we headed back after a great time away.

YS Chi:

You then actually left D&B right? Then you had some other roles but then eventually we found you, or you found us.

Jeremy Bowen:

Yeah, I took a decision YS. The only business I'd worked for was Dun & Bradstreet. I had loved my time there, I still look back very fondly. But the business had gone through lots of changes and having spent five years away and almost like the shackles being off because we'd acquired the business and we would taking it into a different direction. I chose not to want to try and go back to D&B in the UK. I did a couple of things outside of data and then an ex colleague was working for RELX and knew that a business called Bankers Almanac, which was part of the RELX businesses, was looking for a head of sales. So I interviewed and got the job and that's when I came on board.

YS Chi:

Knowing the right people.

Jeremy Bowen:

Yeah, absolutely. It was interesting. It was very much part of RELX and LexisNexis Business Solution's digital transformation. I joined a business which was about an hour South of London. It was in the south of England. It was quite a quiet business, steady growth quite small. But it was when the digital transformation was going on and RELX were busy disposing of all the magazine titles, all of the the advertising. They had the small core of subscription paid for data businesses, of which Bankers Almanac was one. During the interview process, I remember the senior chap that interviewed me said to me, he said Jez, we think this brand can do so much more, we want you to take it for a spin. As a new head of sales, that's just what you want to hear. The shackles are off and we could really go and grow it and really try some new things. And we did. We were doing well after a couple of years to the point where RELX noticed and thought it would be a good idea to bring Accuity who were very much our competitor in the market at the time, into the RELX family. We merged the two businesses together and I spent the next six years running sales for EMEA, Asia Pacific in the combined entity. So that's that's kind of how I joined into RELX. Three years ago I was asked to come into Cirium or its forerunner FlightGlobal. I originally came in as head of sales. We'd grown by lots of acquisitions and the brief that we had was to integrate those acquisitions from a sales perspective. So we unified the offerings, unified the disparate sales groups we'd required. Did that, and then two years ago, as you said at the start of the podcast, I was very lucky enough to be offered the role to step up and become CEO under the new Cirium brand. Two years later, here we are.

YS Chi:

You've done several different verticals, yet you stayed very focused on the customer side. Now, I've also heard you mentioned a few times that you think you may have the best job in RELX. I don't know about that. I think I do. But at least I get to host podcasts, right? Anyway, what makes you say that?

Jeremy Bowen:

YS, I think you might definitely have one of the best jobs at RELX. I have said it a few times, it's funny how you picked up on that. I spent my entire career within data and analytics. Firstly at Dun & Bradstreet and then particularly within Accuity. And it's strange. I love the Accuity world, that anti money laundering, know your customer. When I talk to my friends, and if you're having dinner with people. When I talk about it, unless you're in that space, their eyes glaze over. When I talk about aviation and what we're doing, every person that you talk to is touched by aviation. Virtually everyone travels, everyone's been on an aircraft, everyone goes on holiday. They go to see relatives, they expect the fresh fruit and flowers to be in the supermarket, they know that gets delivered by aircraft. It's a huge ecosystem. Everybody wants to know what's happening. Everyone wants to know if they're going to be able to travel with the pandemic. And so it's very tangible. I love it. It's a world that...we've got a lot of people within the industry that they say that once you get the jet fuel, the aviation fuel in your blood, it never leaves you. I've seen people leave the industry, try something and then come back in. And I get it. I'm three years in. I'm not quite as enthusiastic as some of the people in the team who really, really live and breathe aviation. But I can completely understand it and I'm getting there. I have got the best job.

YS Chi:

Yeah, I think that this industry of airline or travel by air has some sort of an attachment to all of our lives that we we fantasise or we think we really know well, somehow. That's what kind of makes it so special right. As you said, it's very tangible. But at the same time, we're actually far further removed from it from the actual operating principles of it. Let's get into your business side then.

Jeremy Bowen:

Okay.

YS Chi:

You've already highlighted the global pandemic has absolutely tackled the travel and aviation industry in the hardest way. Most of the world was unable to travel for over a year now. Would you be able to explain to our listeners, what Cirium actually does and what are the services it provides within this enormous ecosystem?

Jeremy Bowen:

Sure. We have a mission within Cirium and that's to accelerate our industries digital transformation. If I park that for a second, when I say that to people from outside of the aviation industry, when I talk to friends and colleagues in different companies, they sometimes look at me and they give me a strange expression. They say, accelerating your industries digital transformation, that's something from the early 2000s. But what they don't realise is aviation and that whole ecosystem is relatively slow to adopt that that digital transformation. Their data has been held in legacy silos. They've been beholden to large mainframe operating systems. You sometimes have departments, particularly airlines that don't communicate as effectively between each other as they could do. So we need to free up that data from those silos and be able to get it to people in a more easily consumable format. That's what we do. We are taking in millions and millions of pieces of information every single day from thousands of sources across the across the ecosystem. We bring it into the Cirium Core. We process it, we clean it, we normalise it, and then we fuse it together with all the other sources that are coming in, and then flow that back out with insights over the top of it to be used by the industry. People see it in many different ways. We've got one part of our business that values aircraft, we're producing real time monthly valuations on those aircraft. It's like your car. When you buy a car, you want to know everything about it to see the value of it before you buy it or you sell it. And so that's going to depend on its age, it's going to depend on the equipment that's on that car or aircraft. The usage, where it's flown to, how many hours, how many times it's taken off and landed. The conditions that is has flown through, has it been working in the Middle East versus working somewhere else and that full service history. All that comes together, and we bring that as part of our business to be able to help value more effectively an aircraft. That's one extreme, which is obviously very industry focused. How everyone else can touch it is that we've all travelled. We've all picked up friends and relatives from the airport. And typically people will check to see what time that flights arriving. They might go on to Google, they key in the flight number and they say, what time is it? Oh it's 20 minutes delayed or it's 18 minutes delayed. When they're interacting with Google or when they're talking to Alexa, that's our data. We're bringing in that data to be able to plot and predict exactly when that flight is going to arrive, when it's going to touchdown. So it's one of the things that we do. And equally, we've got a lot of people doing it now. They're going online, they're going on to the internet to book flights for now that things are opening up for the summer holidays and for trips. When they go online onto an online travel agent and they see all the flight and different options, that's fueled by our data. They'll take the shedule of all of those aircraft where they're due to fly and the times. That powers those online travel agents, that's our data as well. So we're touching not just the aviation sector, but also a wide part of the general public in what we're actually doing within Cirium.

YS Chi:

So the use cases sound almost infinite. Right?

Jeremy Bowen:

Absolutely.

YS Chi:

You talk about asset valuation, you talked about logistics, you talked about convenience, you talked about safety. You cannot imagine how much this can be done, particularly when you clean up and have sufficient, consistent data to play with. Do you think the industry is mature now about knowing what kind of data they need to be able to answer the kind of questions they have to rebuild?

Jeremy Bowen:

I think it's interesting YS. They need to look at different data sources. One of the challenges, particularly for an airline, when you look to see where you're going to fly. So your future schedule, and we're all used to, as I said, going online and booking and saying, right, in five weeks time I need to book this flight, its leaving from Heathrow to JFK. When they build their schedules, their forward looking schedules, they're typically relying on what happened in a prior year. They take their old schedule, look to see what really happened and then tweak and upgrade it. That's completely out of the window now, because in 2020 there was no schedule. Nothing was flying, things were getting cancelled at the last minute. You had clients that were taking bookings, very much at the last minute. So it becomes very very difficult to plan where you're going to fly to, how many times you're going to fly there, and what aircraft capacity to put on those routes. The old ways of doing things are gone. What they realise is now we need to look outside of that data for fresher sources of data to help shape where they want to take it. There's a lot of emphasis now going into search. Where are people looking online thinking about booking? There's a lot of information going on sentiment, what's happening on social media? What are people talking about sporting events? What are people talking about good beach destinations? Where are people getting good reviews on? These vast data sets are now being bought in to help shape where they should be booking their future demand. Businesses like Cirium, we're right at the forefront of that. It's a sea change within the industry. But that's something that I think we'll see sheduled ongoing, just being six, maybe eight weeks in advance. Rather than the six months in the 12 months that they always were in the past, as they're able to react quicker to where people want to go to.

YS Chi:

Do you believe that the industry will be prepared to be less predictable that far down the road and be more fluid, to kind of reflect the demand from the travel passengers? That's a big change. That's a very big change because we used to go where we were able to go versus expressing where it is we want to go?

Jeremy Bowen:

Yes, it's a huge change YS. Last summer, particularly within certain countries as borders were opening and closing as new variants of the pandemic were rising. People, everyone was worried about booking too far in advance because they didn't know whether that flight would take place. At one stage in the summer, the summer in 2020 40% of bookings were taking place three days before the flight was due to take off. That's an incredibly high amount, which makes it very difficult for an airline to plan anything. That's why even though sheduled flights with June, you still saw lots and lots of cancellations. As people were saying that there's only four people on an aircraft, we will consolidate it and roll it into tomorrow's flight or the afternoon flight. Even now with border closures with quarantine restrictions changing with fly lists, green lists, red lists. You're still seeing people wanting to book far in advance, they're just leaving it a little bit later than they normally would do, which means that airlines need to be more reactive.

YS Chi:

But that also has, Jez to do with pricing doesn't it. By booking well in advance, we used to be able to get better fare. But if the fare system changes, and that there is less of an advantage of far and booking, then perhaps we can have a very different world of travel. We're we're not penalised for waiting till, a week before to book something. That could be a gigantic change.

Jeremy Bowen:

It will be. Most airlines have removed their cancellation and their change fees. They did that and I don't think we'll start to see those coming back for a long time. People need security that if they do make a booking far out, that they're not going to get penalised if they need to change it a couple of times. But the airlines YS are still under a lot of pressure. We're seeing passenger numbers starting to recover. But those passengers are very much leisure. And the airlines predominantly, the full service carriers make their money on the business traveller. It's the traveller that will tend to book at the last minute, maybe change their flight a couple of times, is less price sensitive, will often fly in a more premium cabin. That's the traveller they've still got to track back. That's the one that's not going to come back for a while. So I think you're right, you're going to see still some volatility in prices until it settles itself down.

YS Chi:

Now, you mentioned that 21 years of industry growth in passenger traffic was wiped out during the pandemic. Is it a 21 month recovery? Or is it a 21 year recovery or something in between?

Jeremy Bowen:

That's a really good question. I don't have my crystal ball. So my personal view, and what we're kind of seeing around the places, that leisure travel is going to come back first. There's lots of pent up demand. People do want to take vacations, people do want to see family and friends and we're already seeing that coming back. But particularly it will be domestic. So within the US, that markets almost back, within parts of Asia. The challenges are where you have to cross border. Europe's still lagging behind because we've got lots of closures. Those will be coming back. The challenge I think is, as I mentioned before is on business travel. The latest estimates are really, we're not going to start to see recoveries back to 2019 levels until 2024/2025. That depends not just on the traveller themselves being able to go to these locations and budgets within corporates, but also whether that world of work has changed forever. There's lots going on about, talking about how people have become used to the Zoom meetings and the Teams meetings and do they need to have so many internal meetings with everyone flying in. It's a slow recovery, it will come back I think, but it's going to be a lot slower than leisure travel and it's going to take a number of years.

YS Chi:

I think you might be very much on the ball with that prediction because there's another aspect we're going to touch on in a few minutes, which is about the environment impact. But what you're hearing is people saying, I don't need to hop on a plane because I don't need to do the face to face. I would rather jump on a Zoom or Teams calls. So I think on the business you might be absolutely right about this. Although I think we know that in the business world, as soon as one competitor has an advantage by having flown and done a face to face, then everybody's going to justify being back on the plane to do face to face.

Jeremy Bowen:

Yes YS, you're right. We think it's going to come back in three phases. You're absolutely right. Client meetings, relationship meetings, partner meetings, will come back first. Those ones that are important for those business relationships, that'll happen first. Second, will be those internal meetings where people have to go and see overseas teams or overseas subsidiaries because they haven't seen them for a while, that will come second. The last thing that will come back will be those internal meetings where 20 or 30 people fly to a neutral destination and meet for a day. That we think will come back last. Those ones where you'll probably see companies start to say, look, we used to get together four times a year, let's do two times a year and the other two meetings will be on Zoom or Teams. They'll still be there. But we think that will be the part that comes back last in terms of the volume of those meetings.

YS Chi:

And it has so much implication not just financially but on our society's way of interacting with each other. The amount of time that I have, you know how much I flew. The amount of time I could not be with my family or friends or my local community, because of the business travel that I had to do. Suddenly all those things are now better balanced.

Jeremy Bowen:

Absolutely. Absolutey nail on the head.

YS Chi:

Yeah, I'm very interested to see how the travel industry will change in that regard. And particularly, as it affects others that you say, partnered with you. From lodging, to restoration, to leisure travel of tourism, and so on and so forth. There's just so much tied to movement industry.

Jeremy Bowen:

Absolutely. It's a huge ecosystem YS, your'e right. It will recover. I strongly, strongly think it will recover, parts of it will come back quicker. And parts of it will come back in a different way. But it will bounce back. It's a very, very resilient industry.

YS Chi:

Yeah. I like your positivism because we need that. I think I really do believe that on the data side, company like Cirium is really making it possible by use of data, smarter use of data to do better when we rebuild. But the other side of the picture Jez is the impact that we've always had and the concern we have around environment. And whether or not, airline disseminates so much carbon footprint. When we rebuild this, Jez do you see the industry being able to build it better in terms of environment footprint?

Jeremy Bowen:

YS that's a great question. The short answer, and then I'll expand on it is yes. I think the interview will build back greener. Pre pandem c, sustainability was probab y number one on most CEOs to do ist. Obviously, the pandem c has completely taken that o er. But now we're seeing it c me back. You've got a lot of go ernment bailouts that have been iven to airlines around th world that come with sustainab lity criteria and sustainab lity clauses. You're seeing bi commitments from the airlines o be carbon neutral by x date. Y u're seeing investment in biofue s. Not fully taken off yet but s bstantial, not talking about it, literally running engi es on sustainable bio uels. That's all happening at th moment. One of the key things touched on earlier, we've ot 30% of the world's fleet s ill parked. Those ones that are still parked, they tend t be the older aircraft, whi h means they tend to be less fue efficient, they might be havin four engines as opposed o two. We'll probably see the ights of those gas guzzling airc aft to never return again. e've seen the the Airbus A380, which is a beautiful aircraft. L ts of airlines have started to retire it. The majority of t em are still parked, they're not flying. Some of those will never return to service, th y'll be broken down for spares There'll be retired. Even with ritish Airways, the classic 7 7. British Airways have retire that fleet. They're just n t fuel efficient now. And the o es that they're bringing out of service, the new aircraft that t ey're ordering are so much bet er than those other ones. We ll never see a big chunk of t at 30% fly again. That's from n airline's perspective. So the are obviously signing up to date, they are trying to run the e programmes. I think the key t ing is going to be around the raveller though. So it's all ery well that the airline's get ing themselves ready. Busine ses around the world are lookin at their own carbon footprin , they're looking at their own ustainability footprint. An a huge chunk that burns thro gh their percentage per nnum is on corporate airfares, c rporate air travel. We ma start to see things like rest icting how much carbon individ als can emit. They're going to want to know what flight is emit ing, what carbon per seat. 've already seen incentives fo people trading down in terms of the class of travel, so the might be trying business and th y're getting paid cash incentiv s for taking a more fuel eff cient seat. And I think we're getting the industry, wer pushing to have their staff fly direct from point A to poi t B, as opposed to flying and t ansiting through another irport and taking another flig t. That's where you've got a lot of preferred airlines for ompanies, you've got lots f corporate deals, and say ng this company, primary f ies with this airline. If that eans you have to transit through two legs, I think we'll start o see that change, and the pus for companies to encourage thei employees to not fly with that airline. But to fly with on that goes direct from point A t point B. It's a big huge iss e. If it's not number one ag in on a CEOs to do list, it's certainly climbing the list retty quickly.

YS Chi:

Wow, fascinating. So if I can ask you a more lighthearted question, I have two of them. One is, tell us who the winners are going to be when the industry comes back? What are the characteristics of the winners? That's the first question.

Jeremy Bowen:

The characteristics of the winners. That's a really hard question. We've already seen that the low cost carriers have bounced back first. Particularly within their domestic markets. There's a number of US airlines that hadn't created all their money from a lot of their money from overseas travel from long haul. Those people that were more regional, and that were more domestic have bounced back really strong. And we're seeing them growing. The same within parts of Asia. I think those people, those airlines that have a lot of their money tied up in transatlantic, and from northern hemisphere to southern hemisphere, they're struggling. They have still got lots of cash burn. At the height of the pandemic in 2021, one of the large US Airlines was burning $100 million every day. Now, we've started to see announcements now say that people have stopped that. People are now cash positive. They stopped the tide. But their money really isn't going to start coming profitable again until we can really open up global travel, not just domestic.

YS Chi:

The second lighthearted question is, what is the future of travel loyalty points that has, as you know, driven a lot of traffic individually and for companies, as you said, preferred airline deals. What's the future?

Jeremy Bowen:

Wow, what's the future. They'll definitely stay. For an airline, particularly the full service carriers that have these programmes. It's such a lucrative part of their business YS.

YS Chi:

It is cash, isn't it?

Jeremy Bowen:

It's massive, absolutely massive. They're selling them to the hotel chains, to the credit card companies. It's given them a massive amount of cash injection during a pandemic when they've needed it. I've seen before that they've raised funds on the back of their loyalty programme. So they're incredibly valuable to the airlines. To the individuals, the last thing that an airline is going to do is to push one of their loyal travellers onto a brand new airline. You've already seen extensions of points, people say, look, don't worry, you're not going to lose them, we want you to stay. I think if an airline started taking them away, it gives those loyal travellers a chance to go well, why don't I try someone else? That's the last thing they need. So I think you'll see them for a long, long time to come.

YS Chi:

Yes, when I was flying, there were three guilts. One is a guilt to my body and the wear and tear it does. The other was to the family and friends that I leave behind. And the third was my environment, input, impact. You've addressed all of those and given me hopes that there will be less of it, but hopefully smarter ones ahead. Jez, you talked about two very important principles, about safety and about communication when it came to pandemic. It seems to apply to the industry you work in. When I'm born again as a business man I want to be in your shoes, I want to be in the airline industry.

Jeremy Bowen:

It's a great industry, it's been through immense trouble and it's still fighting its way through. But as I said before, it's incredibly resilient. You've got some amazing people that have dedicated their life to aviation, and it will bounce back and it will come back stronger, it will come back cleaner. We'll learn from the pandemic and it will be a lot more effective and efficient when it bounces back.

YS Chi:

The fact is that you're sitting on so much data that can be helpful to everybody. I hope that you continue to collect valuable data, find some consistent way to make better business decisions, and be helpful to the entire industry. I admire your personal journey also, to get to where you are today as a CEO of Cirium and I wish you and your family well. Thank you so much Jez.

Jeremy Bowen:

Thank you YS, pleasure to talk.

YS Chi:

Well, we've come to an end of our second series of RELX's Unique Contributions. In this series, I've interviewed 10 people from different backgrounds, based in different continents, confronting different challenges. These have ranged from advancing social justice, inclusion, transparency and integrity in science, innovation in exhibitions, advances in machine learning and deep learning in the legal industry, to corporate responsibility, feeding the world, and the future of air travel. But all my guests have one thing in common. That is the authentic drive for doing good things that benefits society. It's perhaps John Pham, the editor in chief of Cell, who summed it up best when he said, looking back, I like to say that we did good things to help people. That in essence, is how we at RELX look at our unique contributions. Thank you again for listening and until our next series, goodbye for now.