The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced that Willie Walsh has officially taken on the role of Director General of the organization, succeeding Alexandre de Juniac.
“I am passionate about our industry and about the critical work that IATA does on behalf of its members, never more so than during the COVID-19 crisis. IATA has been at the forefront of efforts to restart global connectivity, including developing the IATA Travel Pass," Walsh said in a statement. "Less visible but of equal importance, airlines continue to rely on IATA’s financial settlement systems, Timatic and other vital services to support their day-to-day operations."
Reuters reports that the digital travel pass, which is currently being tested by various airlines, had been planned to be launched by the end of March.
Walsh said he is "grateful to Alexandre" for leaving behind a strong organization and a motivated team.
"Together, the IATA team is absolutely focused on restoring the freedom of movement that airlines provide to billions of people around the world," he said. "That means your freedom to visit friends and family, to meet critical business partners, to secure and retain vital contracts, and to explore our wonderful planet."
In normal times, more than four billion travellers depend on aviation each year and the distribution of vaccines has put the value of efficient air cargo in the spotlight, Walsh said.
"Airlines are committed to delivering safe, efficient, and sustainable services," he said. "My goal is to ensure that IATA is a forceful voice supporting the success of global air transport. We will work with supporters and critics alike to deliver on our commitments to an environmentally sustainable airline industry. It’s my job to make sure that governments, which rely on the economic and social benefits our industry generates, also understand the policies we need to deliver those benefits."
Walsh was confirmed as IATA’s 8th Director General by the 76th IATA Annual General Meeting on 24 Nov. 2020.
He joins IATA after a 40-year career in the airline industry. Walsh retired from the International Airlines Group (IAG) in September 2020 after serving as its CEO since its inception in 2011. Prior to that he was CEO of British Airways (2005-2011) and CEO of Aer Lingus (2001-2005). He began his career in aviation at Aer Lingus in 1979 as a cadet pilot.
Walsh is deeply familiar with IATA, having served on the IATA Board of Governors for almost 13 years between 2005 to 2018, including serving as Chair (2016-2017). He will work from the Association’s Executive Office in Geneva, Switzerland.
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