Johnny Pollard, commercial director, On The BeachHow do you start a new column for the industry’s number-one magazine after the two months that we have all just endured without mentioning the current challenges in front of us? The answer is, you can’t.

It was reported in the trade press and across the national media that we faced failures following the ash cloud crisis and, of course, the global recession. However, I don’t think any agent in the country could have guessed the level of those failures and the effect it would have on every one of us.

It never ceases to amaze me that no matter what is thrown at this industry, there always seems to be an unspoken spirit that gets us all through. No doubt this is a stressful time for everyone, but we will come out of the other side a stronger and closer industry.

Agents across the board now face a new challenge. Where do we get a wide range of air travel from?

With the sudden demise of Goldtrail, which removed the low-cost seats to Turkey, and the unfortunate failure of Kiss flights, which saw Egypt lose a lot of capacity, where do we all go now?

The major tour operators have continued to increase capacity, but not enough. The low-cost carriers are also adding seats to these destinations but these come at a premium.

I believe there is still a huge market for holidaymakers who are looking for great-value holidays. Demand is strong with searches up about 30% year on year across the industry, but customers are not prepared to pay these inflated prices. Clearly there is an opportunity for someone to plug the capacity gap and give consumers what they want.

Support each other

We need a carrier like Kiss who the industry will get behind and support, so they can help grow our business as well as their own. I mentioned that we would come through the current period and be much closer as an industry.

Well let’s make sure that we actually do this – we will all benefit, including the customer. I believe that if Kiss Flights had been given the full support of the industry, it would still be here today.

Was there a risk? Yes probably, but there is risk in every business, no matter what the industry, in this financial climate. I am sad that two very good entrepreneurs, who had the guts to stand on their own and try to provide us with an alternative to the current choices, are out of jobs. You can’t win an election without the majority of the votes and this is very true with the support Kiss received.

I hope that somebody stands up and has another bash at this level, and I for one would urge all agents to get behind whoever it is, whatever their past success or failings, and allow the customer the choice to go away for the much needed holiday they deserve, whatever their budget.