LONDON – The Director General and CEO of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Alexandre de Juniac, will step down from his role at the end of March next year.

According to IATA, de Juniac made it known to the Board of Governors that he wanted to step down “several months ago”, meaning this is an expected departure.

The Board of Governors will recommend at the 76th IATA Annual General Meeting that ex-International Airlines Group (IAG) CEO Willie Walsh replace de Juniac, meaning he will take the job on April 1 next year.

Photo Credit: IATA

Difficult Decision for de Juniac

De Juniac commented in today’s announcement by IATA, stating that he 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 few 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 fulfill critical vaccine distribution needs.”

“In parallel, we have restructured IATA to survive the crisis and be ready to support the industry recovery with an organization 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.”

Photo Credit: IATA

IATA Thanks de Juniac

Also commenting on today’s news was Carsten Spohr, the Chair of the IATA Board of Governors as well as the CEO of Lufthansa who wished de Juniac well but is pressing for Walsh’s appointment.

“Alexandre has led our industry in extraordinary times. Under his leadership IATA has become a stronger and an even more relevant organization. I am joined by all the members of the Board of Governors in thanking him for his service and wishing him well in his next endeavors.”

“I am also pleased that we are able to present a very capable candidate to the 76th IATA AGM to succeed Alexandre in this important role. I am convinced that Willie will be a great Director-General for IATA.”

Photo Credit: IATA

What Can Walsh Bring to the Table?

As IATA’s primary focus at the moment is recovery, Walsh will be able to bring that level of expertise to the table, especially after running a conglomerate of airlines such as British Airways (BA), Iberia (IB), Aer Lingus (EI), among others.

With the IATA Board of Governors pushing for Walsh’s appointment, it means the institution is dead set on electing him as the new Director General and CEO.

The next four years will be vital for the industry and organizations such as IATA, so it needs someone in charge who is a hard-hitter and will get things done, which Walsh is well-known for. It will ultimately be interesting to see what direction he aims to take IATA, and whether it will be anything different to that of de Juniac.

Photo: The Times

A Lot of Work To Do?

IATA obviously know that when Walsh comes in, that a lot of work is needed to bring the airline industry to some sort of recovery by 2024. Airline revenues will drop by around 46% in 2021 as COVID-19 resurges across the globe. IATA also warned that airlines will need around US$70-80bn in total to stay alive during this uncertain time.

One thing that Walsh will no doubt be adopting is IATA’s current global approach towards airport testing, especially with the institution’s arguments that quarantine costs more money than testing passengers. With airlines burning through around $300,000 per minute in 2020, Walsh will need to suggest and implement changes very quickly in order to bring the burn down.

Photo: The Guardian

Featured Image: Picture of Alexandre de Juniac. Photo Credit: IATA.