Submit Press release  eTN Team ·  Advertising  ·  eTN Awards  - Worldtourism Events    

IATA AGM In Berlin

Vision 2050 will be Giovanni Bisignani’s legacy to IATA

Luc Citrinot, eTN  Jun 07, 2010

(eTN) BERLIN - Any IATA (International Air Transport Association) Annual General Meeting over the last nine years would not have been the same event without the impassioned speech of his general secretary and CEO, Giovanni Bisignani. His "BASTA" calls to some of the industry leaders – especially airports or air traffic controls - and are probably expected highlights of IATA AGM.

His "State of the Industry" speech - vintage 2010 - did not disappoint his audience. On the wall of shame, Bisignani pointed the finger at South African airports company, ACSA, which plans to increase its fees by US$1.2 billion over the next five years. “A national embarrassment,” told the IATA CEO. Then came GDS (reservation systems) companies, such as Amadeus and Galileo. “They charge at least US$4 per transaction when China Travel Sky does it for just US$1.20. On top of that, they sell to airlines their own data with a seven-digit price tag. That is pure profit. BASTA. We will break their monopoly on data with a cost-effective solution,” promised Bisignani. The IATA CEO is likely to promote the Chinese GDS to put pressure on Western GDS to eventually lower their prices. Bisignani's indignation goes also to governments, which look “at airlines and passengers to clean up the financial mess after bailing out bankers and stimulating economies. Any tax increases should be directed at the banks, starting with their billion-dollar bonus pots.”

However, Giovanni Bisignani also brought some good news for the entire industry. After two loss-making years – cumulating last with a US$9.9 billion estimated loss - IATA carriers are due to be back to a global full-year profit of US$2.2 billion, while passenger traffic should grow by over 7 percent. “Recovery has been quicker than expected, as we earlier thought that it would take up to three years. But our industry experiences a two-speed approach: the strong rebound is due to improved performances from Asia-Pacific and Latin America, which leads the recovery process, while Europe is lagging behind,” told Bisignani. IATA estimates that Asia Pacific will be profitable by 2.2 billion followed by North America (1.9 billion), Latin America (0.9 billion), and the Middle East/Africa (0.1 billion). Weak economic performances, high unemployment, the currency crisis, and the volcanic ash crisis will depress Europe’s performances. “We estimate that Europe will lose up to US$2.2 billion,” added Bisignani.

Giovanni Bisignani continues to have his eyes turned to the future. Berlin AGM was the opportunity to launch IATA's new initiative. “Our duty is to work together to define a vision and build a sustainable future,” promised the IATA CEO. "Vision 2050" will then define IATA agenda and will be built on four cornerstones: profitability, infrastructure, a new energy source, and the customer. With those four definitions, Bisignani hopes that the airline’s industry will ultimately achieve these goals: consolidating the “world’s most fragmented industry with 1,061 airlines.” Bisignani predicts that in 2050 there will be only a dozen global brands supported by niche and regional players. Revenues will then rise to generate profits of US$100 billion per year in just a decade's time. The target for the industry will be a 10 percent profit margin compared to 0.5 percent last year. Carbon emissions will be cut by half in 2050, with more airlines using biofuels.

Airlines will also redefine the way to travel at airports through improved technology and in the skies. “I predict ten global Air traffic control centers around the world. We will operate with almost no delays in globally-united skies,” shared Giovanni with his audience. In between, the IATA CEO reminded European governments to implement the long-awaited Single European Sky. “We heard about it over the last 20 years. We are fed up! Heads of governments must set the date and deliver!"

By 2050, IATA expects to carry 16 billion passengers compared to 2.4 billion last year. “We will see middle-class nearly triple from 1.3 to 3.5 billion,” he described. Bisignani hopes that these air travelers will be the best advocates to governments for a simplified and powerful air transport industry. “In this vision, many ways of doing business will change,” predicted the IATA CEO.

One element which will definitely change is the IATA CEO. At the end of his presentation, Bisignani announced he will step down by the next AGM after nine years in IATA. "Vision 2050" suddenly sounds like his legacy. But there is no space to a forthcoming nostalgia: Bisignani promised to continue to shout BASTA on behalf of the industry.

Vision 2050 will be Giovanni Bisignani’s legacy to IATA
Giovanni Bisignani at IATA AGM in Berlin

Premium Partners