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STEVEN VAN DER HEIJDEN (CORENDON) IS AFRAIDED THAT FLY TOURISM MUST WAIT FOR MONTHS

will we be able to travel again this year ?!

Photo from : http://travelgsa.nl/steven-van-der-heijden-new-ceo-corendon/

“We will be the last”

AMSTERDAM ♦ At the earliest in winter, and perhaps only next spring: then air tourism will start again.  That is what Steven van der Heijden thinks, the CEO of travel organization Corendon.  A seasoned professional with thirty years of experience, the Dutchman has a strong vision for the restart of this severely affected industry.

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CEO Steven van der Heijden: “I can imagine that some excesses will disappear.

The weekend trips by plane, for example.”  (photo Corendon)

♦ How’s Corendon doing in these unreal times?

Not good, huh.  This is the case for everyone in our sector.  Whoever claims otherwise does not speak the truth.  We are hit very hard.  Our turnover amounts to approximately 600 million euros.

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If we don’t start up before October 31st, we will lose seventy to eighty percent.  That is enormous.  A significant number of our employees have hibernated.  Another part is working hard on exit scenarios.  We should be happy to work in a country that financially supports its companies (Netherlands, ed.).  We also depend on that support today.

♦ The Belgian government’s exit strategy hardly mentions the restart of the travel industry. Were you disappointed?

The Belgian government’s exit strategy hardly mentions the restart of the travel industry.  Were you disappointed?  Be glad that your country already has a strategy on paper.  The Dutch government is going from press conference to press conference.  (laughs) I would have liked to hear a little more about our industry, but I understand that too.  Let’s be realistic: we may be the last activity in the reboot.

♦ How do you see that restart?

This will take place in two phases.  First local travel, especially in your own country, then international travel.  I only see the latter getting underway in winter, or maybe even next spring.  We actually depend on three factors.  One: what does the country of origin say?  Two: what does the country of destination say?  Belgium and the Netherlands have no answers ready yet three: do people want to travel again?  those questions.

♦ What do you think?

it will take time before people go on big journeys again. Initially, a majority will opt for a holiday close by., preferably with your own car.

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We rely on two main target groups for our package tours.  One: the families with children who travel in the summer months.  I see them traveling again quite quickly, because they want to go away with the children anyway.  Two: the so-called empty nesters, the people like children who often travel in the low season.  They may have a little more fear.  They are often over sixty years old, so they belong to the risk groups.

♦ Can you take away that fear?

We do not have full control over this, but we try to do that by taking measures.  We cannot guarantee a meter and a half in an airplane.

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Otherwise, only twenty percent of the seats are occupied.  We will foresee other measures.  A mouth mask for example.  But I especially expect a lot from the so-called rapid tests.  Then we know in advance who is healthy and who is not.  That will be someone’s entrance ticket.

” We cannot guarantee a meter and a half in an airplane.Otherwise, only 20% of the seats are occupied.”

♦ Are there still people making reservations today ?

That number is negligibly small.  A few thousand.  That is barely two percent of and, the normal booking volume.  There are people who want to spend their voucher.

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If you see your trip canceled, we will give you a voucher.  We are currently making the summer program for next year bookable so that they can already choose.  This year has been lost, but I think that next year will return to normal, partly because of all those folders in circulation.  Moreover, many people yearn for holidays,

♦ Will travel become more expensive after this crisis ?

The cost structure will be different.  Hotels will become cheaper, because there will be less demand.  The fuel is also cheaper, which means that flying can be done cheaper.

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At the same time, the costs for the measures can be passed on.  For example, the tests.  It is difficult to estimate that.  But I am not pessimistic.  It will mainly be the shareholders who will bear the losses of the travel organizations.

♦ Can this also have positive consequences ?

(blows) You can.  Every crisis can have positive consequences.  We may take a significant step towards sustainable aviation.  Traveling will also be more hygienic, because of all those measures.  And I can imagine some excesses disappearing.  The weekends with the plane are another example.  But I especially hope that we can go on holiday again soon, as before.

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