Industry

Published on November 24th, 2020 | by Alan Dwyer

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Willie Walsh to Become Director General of IATA

Irishman and former CEO of Aer Lingus, British Airways and the IAG Group Willie Walsh is to become the next Director General of IATA. Mr Walsh will take over from Alexandre de Juniac who will step down from the position on the 31st March next year. the outgoing Director General, Alexanre De Juniac made known his intention to step down from the Association several months ago which enabled a search process to facilitate a smooth leadership transition.

Speaking as the announcement was made public, Mr De Juniac said “I did not come to this decision lightly. It has been the privilege of a lifetime to serve the global air transport industry—what I call the business of freedom—as the head of IATA. Over the last years IATA has strategically increased its relevance as the voice of the global airline industry. This has been evident in the COVID-19 crisis. IATA has set the course to restore air connectivity amid the pandemic with systematic pre-departure testing. We are well into preparations to fulfil critical vaccine distribution needs. In parallel, we have restructured IATA to survive the crisis and be ready to support the industry recovery with an organisation dimensioned to serve a smaller industry. And we have a motivated team that is determined to get the job done. The building blocks for an industry recovery are in place. And now is the right time to hand over IATA’s leadership for the long process of recovery.” De Juniac joined IATA in September 2016 from Air France-KLM where he was Chairman and CEO.

Willie Walsh – Picture by: Stuart Bailey

Willie Walsh stepped down from IAG in September after having extended his tenure beyond his initially planned departure time to help manage the group through the unfolding pandemic. Before IAG, Walsh had been CEO of British Airways, Aer Lingus and Futura. He is credited for turning first BA, then IAG, into highly profitable operations, yet has been criticised by unions for his sometimes uncompromising positions. Walsh started his career in aviation as a pilot and was a Boeing 737 Captain before focusing on management.

IATA, The International Air Transport Association, represents about 290 airlines comprising 82% of global air traffic. Airlines are on course to lose a total of $157 billion this year and next, IATA warned today at the associations 76th AGM. IATA has further downgraded its industry outlook in response to a second wave of coronavirus infections and shutdowns afflicting major markets. Previously, last June, IATA had forecast $100 billion in losses for the two-year period. It said it now projects a $118.5 billion deficit this year alone, and a further $38.7 billion for 2021. 

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