Kurt Hofmann is a renowned aviation journalist and a true authority in the world of aviation and its ever-evolving trends. Despite his demanding schedule, which involves extensive travels and interviews with top leaders in the aviation industry, we are fortunate to have him here for this exclusive interview.
We will discover the differences between how aviation is viewed in the East and West, learn about the current trends in the aviation industry, talk about alternative fuel systems and their pivotal role in the future of aviation, gain insights into developments that are shaping the European aviation landscape, and more…
1.) You strike me as a clearheaded, wise, and determined man of your word.
Thanks for the compliment. I think as a journalist you have to stick with what you say or write. Over time you see the benefits of it. Privately or business-wise.
2.) How did life guide you toward your career of being one of the most sought-after aviation journalists? Why aviation?
I am now freelance for 28 years. I started as a travel agent. Traveling especially airlines was always part of my life. Also as a small boy. I started some writing for travel trade media besides my job in a travel agency. But never thought about becoming a journalist. It just happened. And continues to develop.
3.) We see you flying for work most of your days, interviewing top aviation industry leaders. What is your typical week like?
This depends. Currently, I fly once or twice a week. I work from home. So I never go to an office. As I live by a lake, the water always gives me a great time to recover in a short time. Also after long-haul flights. Some interviews will be arranged four to six months ahead. Some happen also on short notice. I do around 50 to 60 airline CEO interviews during the year.
4.)You write for various aviation magazines and portals. Where can we read your interviews and aviation news?
I’m a correspondent for Air Transport World and Aviation Week in Washington, as well as for the Route’s magazine, and Aero International in Hamburg. Also radio and TV work for several channels in Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, and Qatar.
5.)How many countries have you visited since you started this work? Is it hard with such a work tempo?
Around 70 nations so far I have visited. The recharge place is the lake. I never found it hard to work, sometimes at a fast tempo. It is always a pleasure doing it. And you always meet wonderful people. Like you in Ljubljana a while ago.
6.)What’s your favorite thing to do?
I like flying in a First Class seat. And to be on the boat crossing the lake at home, especially when all the tourists are gone.
7.) When you travel on the plane now, what excites you most?
Everything. It all comes together. I did around 60 delivery flights of brand new aircraft to the airline customers. Airbus, Boeing, or Embraer. These flights are always special. Or 18 hours nonstop from Singapore to Newark with Singapore Airlines and many other flights.
8.) As an aviation journalist with a global perspective, you’ve had the opportunity to witness and report on aviation developments both in the East and the West. Is there a different view of aviation?
It is. Asia is booming, for example, India and Vietnam. Aviation in Europe will be seen by many people as a threat and there is not much appreciation for it anymore. There is a big future for airlines in the Americas and also in Africa. Even though African aviation remains challenging.
9.)What particular developments or innovations impress you or worry you the most about the current state of aviation?
The ultra long haul flights which are coming up will be interesting. Like Sydney-London. Aviation is flying from one crisis to the next one. Aviation learned to deal with it. No big worries so far.
10.) Alternative fuel systems and engines are gaining traction as the aviation industry seeks to reduce its environmental footprint. How do you envision the role of these alternative technologies in the future of aviation (hydrogen, electric)?
One example. Lufthansa burns per hour 1000 tons of fuel. But only two percent of it is with SAF. A big challenge is to get enough from this in the future. And it is expensive to produce it. The new engines are great, but as we see at the A320neo, the problems from Pratt and Whitney engines are increasing. Next year we will see around half of all A320neo aircraft worldwide grounded. Airlines have prepared for it already. Hydrogen has a long way to go, electric so far only on small aircraft in some years.
11.) What is in your opinion the most amazing thing that will happen in aviation in in next 10 years?
Aircrafts are getting much more fuel efficient, environmentally friendly, more quieter. An ongoing development in technology.
12.) How do you see airline business in Europe in the future- like in the US where companies merge, or will it be a lot of small national airliners?
Too many airlines in Europe and it is time for consolidation. Let’s see who will survive this winter. In your country Slovenia the idea is coming up again to establish a new airline. You need two to three years of ongoing operations until the market accepts a new airline. It is also about the money, cash is king.
13.) What is in your opinion the biggest challenge of the airline industry in the next few years?
Sustainability and Human Resources.
14.) What is the best advice you would give someone pursuing their dreams?
You can do anything in your life. Everything is possible as long you have a strong desire to do it. Some people told me many years ago, no don’t become a freelance journalist, you have to think about your income, etc., but I never listened to them. I was focused on my plans. And I still do the same. And it will never change. Never!
written by: Eva Kraš