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NBTA Day Two: Bag Fees, Business Opportunity Grants, and Biofuels

Unlike yesterday at NBTA, today was mostly a series of 30 minute one-on-one interviews. I'm going to have more in-depth on some of these when I have time, but I thought I'd give a brief rundown to whet your appetite.

  • First up, we had the airline CEO panel. This year it was Southwest CEO Gary Kelly and Continental CEO-for-now Larry Kellner. There was plenty of talk about fees, and Gary remained adamant that Southwest isn't leaving any money on the table. Larry, however, said that the lack of ability to shift share or increase fares effectively forced them to chase the revenue with a fee. I'll have a full rundown of this once I can digest my notes.
  • At noon, I met with British Airways EVP of the Americas Simon Talling-Smith. We talked about many BA-related issues, but the most interesting to me was the recently announced Business Opportunity Grants. Simon noted that they do have empty business class seats right now, so they thought it would be a good idea to use them to promote business meetings face-to-face. One hundred small to mid-size businesses will receive a grant which includes 10 business class tickets on BA. It also includes things from other companies. All you have to do is apply and explain why you deserve the grant.
  • Later in the day, I spoke with Rob Pollack, VP of Brand and Market Positioning for Boeing. I tried to get additional info about the 787 delays, but they didn't have anything to report. Apparently a new schedule will be out in Q3 at the latest. The big message for them at NBTA this year, however, was about biofuels. They feel that sustainable biofuel certification could be complete by 2012 at the latest, and then we can expect to see things really get moving. Apparently, it's only when oil gets into the low $100 range that biofuels really start to take off. That may not be far away.
Today is the last day of the conference, but I'll have plenty of content here over the next few days.