fvw Kongress

Air Berlin, AI, China and new faces

The fate of Air Berlin, the potential of artificial intelligence, the impact of China and new industry players are just some of the hot topics at the fvw Kongress later this month.

September 06, 2017
New ideas, knowledge and networking at the fvw Kongress
Photo: Christian Wyrwa

The insolvency and impending sale of Air Berlin will inevitably be THE top subject of discussion among more than 2,000 senior executives and managers at the annual German travel industry conference in Cologne on September 19 - 20. Tour operators, travel airlines, airlines and other stakeholders are all affected by the fate of German’s second-largest airline, which should be much clearer once the September 15 deadline for offers has passed.

Appropriately, German economics minister Brigitte Zypries, who will be a central figure in deciding the airline’s future, is the first keynote speaker at the conference on September 19. The other keynote speakers German Tourism Industry Federation president Michael Frenzel and German Travel Association president Norbert Fiebig may well also have views on the spectacular insolvency.

Some of the key players in the Air Berlin drama will take to the stage on September 20. TUI CEO Fritz Joussen will hold a keynote speech, to be followed by a panel discussion between Oliver Wagner (Eurowings managing director), Roland Keppler (TUIfly CEO) and Paul Schwaiger, Condor’s Commercial Director for Continental Europe. These three airlines are at the centre of speculation about who might get which parts of Air Berlin if it is sold off in parts.

The conference is likely to be packed when the new TUI Germany Marek Andryszak faces the German travel industry for the first time in an interview session, giving him the opportunity to outline his plans for the tour operator market leader. DER Touristik Group CEO Sören Hartmann will also outline how the third-largest tourism group plans to respond to changing market conditions.

Participants will also be keen to hear from another new face, financial investor Jaroslaw Czernek, on how the Czech group Rockaway Capital/Invia wants to make money as owner of the former Unister portals following their spectacular insolvency last year.

Two other big topics stand out in the two-day programme. The potential of artificial intelligence to revolutionise tourism will be discussed by AI expert Damian Borth, a director at the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), and Mark McSpadden, Director of Technology at Sabre Labs.

The fvw Kongress also offers a rare opportunity to hear from international experts about the dynamic growth of the Chinese outbound travel market, and what this means for destination Europe, tour operators, hotels and other travel suppliers. Speakers on China include Professor Wolfgang Arlt (China Outbound Tourism Research Institute), Alessandro Dassi (Thomas Cook China), Nabil Elshafaey, Head of Global Partnerships at BeMyGuest, and Guosheng Liu, managing director of Germany-based China Tours.

* Fvw.com will report on the major news from this year’s fvw Kongress.

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