IATA AGM Calls for Governments to Support Safe and Sustainable Industry Restart
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) 76th Annual General Meeting (AGM) unanimously approved a resolution re-confirming the airlines’ unwavering commitment to safely and sustainably re-connect the planet.
The resolution called on governments to:
- Ensure the industry’s viability with continued financial and regulatory support,
- Aid the industry in reaching its 2050 goal of cutting emissions to half of 2005 levels while exploring pathways to net zero carbon emissions through economic stimulus investments in commercializing Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF),
- Work with airlines to ensure safety standards and critical skills are maintained both during the crisis and in the subsequent re-start and scale-up of operations.
“COVID-19 has devastated the balance sheets of our member airlines and we need continuing government support to enable the aviation industry to restart and rebuild connectivity. Without the economic benefits that aviation delivers, the global economic recovery will be much weaker and slower,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
The need for financial support is critical. Governments have already provided $173 billion to airlines, but many programs are running out as the COVID-19 crisis continues far longer than was anticipated.
“The $173 billion in financial support has saved countless jobs and averted mass bankruptcies. This was an investment in recovery—not just for airlines but for the economy as a whole. Every aviation job supports 29 others. A full global recovery from this crisis will be significantly compromised without the economic catalyst of aviation,” said de Juniac.
During the crisis, airlines have cut costs nearly in half but revenues have plummeted even faster. Airlines are expected to lose $118.5 billion in 2020 and a further $38.7 billion in 2021, turning cash positive only at the end of 2021.
“More support will be needed to see the industry through. And it must come in forms that do not further increase debt which has already ballooned from $430 billion in 2019 to $651 billion in 2020,” said de Juniac.
Airlines reconfirmed their commitment to reduce net CO2 emissions to half of 2005 levels by 2050.
The groundbreaking Waypoint 2050¹ report by the cross-industry Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), which IATA and other aviation stakeholders contributed to, said the aviation industry is exploring pathways to collectively reach net zero emissions. This is the first time that the industry has collectively looked at a net zero emissions future.
“Meeting our goal of cutting our net emissions to half 2005 levels will be a challenge, but we know it can be done. And we have growing confidence that the industry can find a pathway to net zero emissions,” said de Juniac.
Aviation will need the support of governments to make the energy transition to SAF that is needed to meet its climate change target. Compared with fossil fuels, SAF can reduce life-cycle carbon emissions by up to 80%.
“Aviation will rely on liquid fuels to power operations out to 2050, especially for the long-haul fleet. SAF is the viable, decarbonization option. Putting economic stimulus funds behind the development of a large-scale, competitive SAF market would be a triple win—creating jobs, fighting climate change and sustainably connecting the world,” said de Juniac.
Government support should aim to eliminate a major cost gap that results in SAF being up to four times more costly that traditional jet kerosene. This has limited its use to about 0.1% of total fuel uplift.
The resolution also urged governments to avoid taxes and charges which are inefficient policy instruments to promote sustainability. “Taxes are not the way forward in mitigating climate change. All too often funds raised from environmental taxes are not used directly to fight climate change. Clearly, the best way forward is for governments to help build up a viable SAF industry,” said de Juniac.
The IATA membership also reiterated its commitment to safety. In the crisis this is evidenced in the comprehensive Take-off guidance published by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) with the support of IATA and other industry stakeholders. This lays the foundation for the harmonized implementation of a multi-layered approach to keeping travelers and crew safe. While 86% of people currently traveling report that they feel safe with the new measures, there is still work to be done for universal implementation.
The resolution further called on governments to work with airlines to maintain safety standards and critical skill levels during the crisis and in a safe re-start and scale-up of operations in the recovery.
“We must plan carefully with regulators how to safely ramp-up operations in the eventual recovery. Reactivating thousands of grounded aircraft, managing the qualifications and readiness of millions of licensed personnel and dealing with a major drain of experienced workers will be key to a safe re-start. From the earliest stages of the crisis we worked with ICAO and regulators on a framework to do this. And this work continues as the crisis drags on beyond expectations,” said de Juniac.
IATA AGM Calls for Reopening Borders with Testing and Without Quarantine
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) 76th Annual General Meeting (AGM) unanimously resolved to urgently call on governments to re-open borders to travel. IATA is proposing systematic testing of international travelers which would permit the lifting of border restrictions and provide an alternative to current quarantine rules.
Quarantines essentially kill demand for air travel and governments need to immediately consider the drastic socio-economic effect this is having. International air travel continues to be down 90% on 2019 levels. Current estimates are that as many as 46 million jobs supported by air travel could be lost and that the economic activity sustained by aviation will be reduced by US $1.8 trillion.
“People want and need global mobility. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Take-off measures make flying safe. But border closures, movement restrictions and quarantine measures make travel impossible for most. We must manage how we live with the virus. But that does not have to mean destroying aviation, risking millions of jobs, crippling economies and tearing apart the international social fabric. We could safely open borders today with systematic COVID-19 testing,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
In its resolution the AGM also:
- Reaffirmed the industry’s continuing commitment to implementing globally agreed biosafety protocols,
- Encouraged governments to implement guidance developed by ICAO,
- Asked governments to ensure that aviation staff and international travelers are prioritized for COVID-19 vaccination once safe and effective treatments become available and health care workers and vulnerable groups have been protected.
The AGM also reinforced the vital role of air transport in facilitating the global response to the pandemic, including the timely distribution of medicines, testing kits, protective equipment and eventually vaccines around the world.
JetBlue to Host Next AGM in Boston
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that JetBlue Airways will host the 77th IATA Annual General Meeting and World Air Transport Summit in Boston, Massachusetts, on 27-29 June 2021. This will be the sixth time the preeminent global gathering of aviation’s leaders has taken place in the United States and the first time it comes to Boston.
“Boston is an exciting choice for the 77th IATA AGM. With its rich history, attractive setting and prestigious universities, it is a popular global tourism destination. As the world reopens, Boston will be a bellwether city to observe the shape of the recovery,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
“JetBlue and our crewmembers look forward to welcoming the leaders of the world aviation community to Boston, one of our key focus cities,” said Robin Hayes, Chief Executive Officer of JetBlue Airways and incoming Chairman of the IATA Board of Governors.
The decision to host the 77th IATA Annual General Meeting in Boston was made at the conclusion of the 76th AGM, which was held virtually with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines as the host airline.
Leadership Changes at IATA
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced leadership changes approved by the 76th IATA Annual General Meeting (AGM).
- Robin Hayes, CEO of JetBlue is now the Chair of the IATA Board of Governors (BoG), succeeding Carsten Spohr, Chair IATA BoG (2019-2020) and CEO of Lufthansa. Hayes will serve a term commencing immediately and ending at the conclusion of the Association’s 78th Annual General Meeting to be held in 2022. Hayes will serve an extended term as Chair covering two AGMs due the disruption to governance cycles necessitated by the COVID-19 crisis.
- Rickard Gustafson, CEO of SAS Group will serve as Chairman of the BoG from the conclusion of the 78th IATA AGM in 2022 until the conclusion of the 79th AGM in 2023, following Hayes’ term.
- Willie Walsh, former CEO of International Airlines Group (IAG) will become IATA’s 8th Director General from 1 April 2021. He will succeed Alexandre de Juniac, who has led IATA since 2016 and who will step down from IATA at the end of March 2021.
- The Nominating Committee’s recommendations for appointments to the BoG were approved. See the full list of the current IATA BoG.
“I am pleased to be ending my term as Chair of the IATA BoG with strong leadership in place to see IATA through the crisis and lead the industry towards recovery. I thank all the members of the BoG and Alexandre for their support over the 18 months that I have served as BoG Chair—particularly during the crisis period. That support enabled extraordinary efforts by IATA during the crisis. Those efforts have made our association even more relevant. With today’s leadership announcements we can be assured that IATA remains in good hands. Robin will be a strong leader for the BoG. I am confident that Alexandre will continue to be an authoritative voice for the industry as he completes his term as Director General and CEO. And Willie will take up the mantle from April with the fierce leadership determination for which he is well-known,” said Spohr.
“The expectations for IATA’s leadership are high. Managing through the crisis is, of course, at the top of the agenda. We must safely re-open borders and build back the vital global connectivity that has been lost in this crisis. There is a great expectation for aviation’s role in the global distribution of a vaccines when they are ready. Safely re-starting large parts of the industry after months of being grounded is a challenge that will require IATA to work with governments globally. And, in additional COVID-19 related work, we have a clear mandate to meet our 2050 goal to cut net aviation emissions to half 2005 levels; and to explore pathways to net zero globally. I look forward to driving these priorities forward with the support of Alexandre, Willie, the BoG and all our members,” said Hayes.
Hayes was named president of JetBlue in 2014 and appointed CEO in 2015, a position that also encompasses subsidiaries JetBlue Technology Ventures and JetBlue Travel Products. He joined JetBlue in 2008 as Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer after a 19-year career with British Airways.
“These next months will be critical. There is much work to be done to re-open borders with testing. And we are making preparations for the eventual global distribution of vaccines. I look forward to working with Robin to move as far as we can on these and other critical IATA projects before handing over to Willie during March. In the meantime, I congratulate Willie on his appointment, and I thank Carsten and the other Board members for their support during my time at IATA,” said de Juniac.
“I am honored by the confidence placed in me to take on the responsibilities of IATA Director General. Associations play a critical role in our industry and none is more important than IATA. It must be a forceful advocate for the industry—moving forward crisis recovery priorities, ensuring sustainability and helping airlines to survive by lowering costs, reducing taxes and eliminating regulatory blockers to success. Many of IATA’s services are essential for airlines to do business, including the settlement systems which in normal times handle about half the industry’s revenue—over $400 billion a year. And IATA’s industry standards are essential for safe and efficient global operations. The job of IATA Director General comes with great responsibility for an industry that is critical to the economic and social wellbeing of the world. I look forward to continuing the transformation started by Alexandre, making IATA an even more effective association that meets the needs of its members and exceeds their expectations,” said Walsh.
Walsh is an airline industry veteran. He has served as CEO of International Airlines Group (IAG) from its creation under his leadership in 2011 until 2020, CEO of British Airways as CEO (2005-2011) and CEO of Aer Lingus (2001-2005) after a career at that airline and its associated companies which began as a pilot cadet in 1979. Walsh is very familiar with IATA having served on its Board of Governors for almost 13 years between 2005 to 2018, including as Chair (2016-2017).
Read the Acceptance Speech of Willie Walsh, Director General Designate, 76th IATA AGM