The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called for speed and innovation to enable aviation to continue to deliver its vast social and economic benefits.
“Aviation is the business of freedom. We make global mobility ubiquitous. For 63 million people, aviation provides the freedom to earn their livelihood. For 3.8 billion travelers aviation includes the freedom to explore the world, build understanding, develop business, make friendships, visit relatives or make their lives better. Speed and innovation will secure our future so that we can continue to deliver these benefits,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
De Juniac’s comments were made in a keynote speech at the opening of the IATA World Financial Symposium in which he noted that the airline industry is forecast to deliver a collective net profit of US $39.4 billion this year, which would be a record. “We are having a very good year. I am not predicting an end to the good times, but it would be unrealistic to expect them to last forever.” He pointed out that profitability is not evenly spread, with significant variations among regions.
Among potential risks de Juniac identified are: a sudden rise in oil prices; an increase in terrorism aimed at aviation and air travel; a sharp economic downturn and a retreat from the principles of free trade by one or more major economies.
“Uncertainty is ahead of us. I am a big believer in speed and innovation. We cannot know the future. But we need to be prepared to react quickly when the environment changes. That’s not easy for any business—and it is a real struggle for process-driven industries like air transport.”
Building on the conference theme of the importance of high performing financial departments to support the airline CEO, de Juniac said that the “dream team” for any CEO has high performance across all of its functions, so that effective decisions can be made swiftly.”
He also noted that the IATA Financial Committee White Paper has identified key themes for supporting sustained industry financial health, comprising:
- Advocating for Smarter Regulation
- Value Chain Optimization
- Innovation, and
- More Efficient Processes.
“These themes are already well-established on the IATA agenda and you can count on my continued support for initiatives in all these areas,” said de Juniac.