The International Air Transport Association (IATA) on Thursday announced that Willie Walsh had officially taken on the role of Director General of the organisation. He succeeds 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. The organisation has been at the forefront of efforts to restart global connectivity, including developing the IATA Travel Pass,” Mr. Walsh said.
The new Director General said that less visible but of equal importance was that airlines continue to rely on its financial settlement systems, Timatic and other vital services to support their day-to-day operations.
IATA for Freedom of Movement
“I am grateful to Alexandre for leaving behind a strong organisation and a motivated team. Together, the team is absolutely focused on restoring the freedom of movement that airlines provide to billions of people around the world. 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,” he said.
Mr. Walsh explained that in normal times over four billion travellers depend on aviation each year and the distribution of vaccines has put the value of efficient air cargo in the spotlight. “Airlines are committed to delivering safe, efficient, and sustainable services. My goal is to ensure that the organisation is a forceful voice supporting the success of global air transport,” he said.
The new Director General added that they would 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,” said Mr. Walsh.
IATA’s 8th Director General
Mr. Walsh was confirmed as the organisation’s 8th Director General by the 76th Annual General Meeting on 24 November 2020. He joins 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. Mr. Walsh is deeply familiar with his new job, 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.