Dnata boss says more cuts inevitable without pick-up in demand

The boss of dnata Travel UK has warned that he will have to make further cuts within his business if demand doesn’t pick up – and said all travel firms will be in the same position.

Speaking at Abta’s virtual Travel Convention, chief executive John Bevan said: “We had a strategy review that was ongoing and that was publicly known. What Covid did was accelerate that and make us cut a lot deeper.

“We realised very soon that this wasn’t going to be a six-month blip, it was going to go on a lot longer and I am so glad we did what we did, however hard that was on the people side; it’s not easy when you affect so many people.”

But he said: “Is that it? We don’t know. If levels stay where they are and nothing happens for another six months, no-one will be able to sit back and stay where they are. We will have to do more.”

Bevan added: “What we’re hoping is, the government get behind this, get it under control so that people start travelling again and we’ll be fine. But if, by April, we’re still in the situation we’re in, we’ll definitely have to do more. And that goes for the whole industry.”

Asked if he thought there would be more failures coming down the line, he said: “I don’t want to be Doctor Doom, but it will be tough this winter and I think we will see other businesses fall by the wayside as the revenue just isn’t there and some people may not have planned for the end of furlough as well as others.

“We’re going to make use of the Job Support Scheme a little bit but it’s not that lucrative so it doesn’t help us that much.”

But Bevan said there was hope.

“The beauty of the travel industry is that when it turns, it will turn really quickly,” he said.

“There’s pent-up demand. You know, people won’t have been able to go to Australia for three years by the time we’re allowed in. So it will come. And I think people need to really tighten their belts, be super-careful what they spend their money on and ride through it as long as they possibly can.”

He added: “If they can plan to be like this, at this level, through to April, then I think we’ve got a chance. But if they haven’t adjusted already, then I think they are in for a bumpy ride.”


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