IN THE HOT SEAT
Marc Cavaliere, EVP North America
South African Airways
Earlier this month, South African Airways’
board approved a “far-reaching” restructuring plan that the airline said it needed
in order to return to profitability within 18
SAA said it would sell off some non-core businesses; reduce staff; refocus on
its retail, government and corporate sales
channels; ground six 747-400 aircraft with
poor cost-to-revenue ratios; reconsider its
fleet structure; add capacity in profitable
markets; terminate service in unprofitable
markets such as Paris and Zurich; and continue to leverage its Star Alliance membership with flights to Star partner hubs.
At a Star Alliance 10th anniversary event
in Washington, Aviation Editor Andrew
Compart talked to Marc Cavaliere, the
airline’s executive vice president of North
America, about what the
changes would mean for the
U.S. market. SAA offers daily
nonstops from Washington
Dulles and daily one-stop service from New York’s Kennedy
Q: How did South African
reach the point where it need-
ed to do this? Marc Cavaliere
A: Over the years, we had
continued to operate much as
the legacy carriers had done: We accrued
some inefficiencies, and they continued
to build up. Most of the world’s carriers
have done a lot of restructuring.
We’ve lagged a little behind. Now
it’s our turn to step up to the plate.
a wholly owned
state airline, the
government expects us to be
Q: There will be
route and frequency changes involved
in this restructuring, both additions and
subtractions. What’s happening in the
A: In North America, we continue to
be focused on growing the market and
growing our business. For now, we’re
status quo. I think it’s important at this
point that we get through all the restructuring before we embark on any new
routes, but hopefully we’ll have some
announcements down the road. The
North American market is a very strong
market for us.
Q: The plan talks about “refocusing” the
sales effort. What does that mean?
A: We very much work directly with all
of our travel partners. But as more consumers are shopping online, we’ve had
to step up to that opportunity, as well.
Also, a lot of that refocusing ties in
with programs that we’re doing in conjunction with our Star Alliance partners,
particularly here in the U.S. in working
with United. It also pertains to some of
the sales programs we have on the corporate side in South Africa.
Q: Will your U.S. staffing levels remain
A: There won’t be any changes. We already have a pretty focused, lean organization here. We still have our same staff
of 10 sales directors across
the country that all report to
our vice president of sales
in Fort Lauderdale. We’ve increased the staffing at our inside sales organization in Fort
Lauderdale. We still have the
seven-day-a-week operation of
our customer call center and
our frequent-flyer desk in Fort
Q: Will there be product
A: We’ve already started with product
enhancements. We’ve upgraded all of
our services out of the U.S. to the latest
state-of-the-art Airbus A340s. They have
our advanced business class with the
lie-flat beds, individual entertainment
systems and the
expanded, long-haul configuration in business
Q: What happens if this re-
structuring plan doesn’t work?
A: Our focus is that the plan will work.
The airline has been around for quite a
while, and I think we’re putting in the
Q: Is there talk of privatizing the airline?
A: I think we all realize that while we’d
like to get the point where the airline is
privatized down the road, our first order
of business is to make sure we take care
of an effective and successful restructuring. That will best position the airline for
private equity and private investment.
It isn’t often that TC sees New York Mayor Michael Bloom-
berg attending travel industry press events that have no di-
rect connection to the Big Apple. But there he was last week
at Hertz’s lunch to announce the expansion
of its environmentally
friendly Green Collection. It could be that
Hertz CEO Mark Fris-sora extended the invitation to
Hizzoner through his son, who
happens to be married to the
TC hears that a consolidated conference may be in the works now that the
Caribbean Tourism Development Co.,
a marketing and business development
unit owned equally by the Caribbean
Tourism Organization and the Caribbean
Hotel Association, is up and running.
Instead of each organization hosting
its own annual confab, one major conference hosted by both has been discussed.
Other annual events, such as the Caribbean’s Sustainable Tourism Conference,
might be melded into other meetings, as
The quid pro quo for accepting the invitation? Perhaps it’s that 100 of the new
3,400 hybrid cars being added to Hertz’s
fleet have been earmarked for Hertz locations in Manhattan.
A few less Caribbean conferences on the
calendar each year would be welcome
news to the tourism officials who shuttle
frequently from podium to podium in
different island venues, often to discuss
the same issues. (It would be welcome
news to the reporters who cover these
During his speech in New York outlining
the changes taking place in marketing
Caribbean tourism, Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, secretary general of the Caribbean Tourism Organization, paused for a
sip of Fiji bottled water.
He noted wryly that it came from half
a world away from the region he was
“I know we will have another brand of
water at this podium next year,” he said,
glancing meaningfully at the event organizers.
Friends & Colleagues
director of sales and marketing at the Brisbane Marriott
in Brisbane, Australia.
‘Most carriers have done a
lot of restructuring. We’ve
lagged a little behind.’
Carlson Hotels Worldwide
named Brett Zabel director
of travel industry relationships, a new position. Zabel
is responsible for driving
synergy between Carlson
Wagonlit Travel and Carlson Hotels. He had worked
for CWT in two areas over
the past seven years: CWT
Solutions Group and Global
Fidel Hinojosa was named
vice president of operations
for Nickelodeon Family
Suites by Holiday Inn in Orlando. He was vice president
of portfolio management
for CNL Hotels & Resorts.
Ronald Roy was appointed
executive vice president,
Americas for Luxury Lifestyle Hotels & Resorts, a
joint venture of the Stein
Group and Sol Melia Hotels & Resorts. He joined Sol
Melia in 1997 and most recently was vice president of
marketing and distribution.
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Carlos Coriano was named
director of sales and marketing for the Island Outpost
boutique hotel collection in
Jamaica and the Bahamas.
Coriano also serves as executive director of Andria
Mitsakos Public Relations.
Ricardo Acevedo (above)
was appointed general manager of the Four Seasons
Hotel Miami. He had been
general manager of the Four
Seasons Hotel Singapore.
(SUBMIT YOUR STORIES AND PHOTOS: Gerry Bourbeau, Travel
Weekly deputy managing editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Simon Bell was named director of marketing of the
St. Kitts Marriott Resort &
Royal Beach Casino. Bell was
Mike Aylmer was named director of sales and marketing at the Homestead, a KSL
resort in Hot Springs, Va.
Aylmer, who has been with
KSL Resorts since 1998, was
senior director of national