Featured image/All photos: Roberto Leiro/Airways

IATA Annual General Meeting 2024: It’s a wrap!

DUBAI — The 2024 iteration of the Annual General Meeting of the International Air Transport Association has concluded in Dubai, demonstrating the resurgence of air travel as a major player in the global business scenario.

The gathering held on June 2-4, hosted by Emirates (EK), was the first of its kind in Dubai and brought together over 1,500 participants from over 330 airlines based in 120 countries. Strategic partners, original equipment manufacturers, suppliers, and media representatives attended the event.

Reflecting on the unprecedented turnout, Willie Walsh, director general IATA, announced that the 2024 AGM set the stage for a momentous occasion, underscoring the industry’s commitment to shaping the future of aviation around sustainability, equality, safety and the promotion of global standards.

Cautious Optimism

The event concludes with a stronger sense of optimism than that of the last gathering in Istanbul in 2023. The airline industry is back after the COVID-19 pandemic and on the path to sustainable profits, although Walsh said, “there is a big gap still to cover.”

The director general warned that despite the improvement in the financial forecasts—from 2.7% to 3.1% net profit margin reported in the December 2023 report of IATA, the return above the cost of capital remains weak, 35% below the expected margin. “Earning just US$6.14 per passenger is an indication of just how thin our profits are—barely enough for a coffee in many parts of the world.”

(from Left to right) Nate Pieper, CEO, oneworld and André Viljoen, CEO, Fiji Airways, during the celebration of the 25th anniversary of  oneworld. Fiji Airways has become the 15th partner of the global airline alliance.

Oneworld Turns 25, Fiji Airways Becomes Full Member

The gathering in Dubai brought the 15th members of the oneworld alliance to celebrate its 25th anniversary and welcome Fiji Airways (FJ) as a full member of the global travel alliance. Oman Air (WY) is set to become the 16th member of oneworld later this year.

“Fiji Airways is already part of the oneworld family, as we have had a highly successful relationship since the airline joined as a oneworld Connect partner five years ago. With its tremendous growth, award-winning product and services, and acceleration of connections with all oneworld member airlines, Fiji Airways will strengthen our position as the premier airline alliance for international global travellers,” Nat Pieper, CEO, oneworld, commented during the event.

With oneworld celebrating its 25th anniversary, the primary focus of Pieper is the enhancement of all aspects of the guest travel experience, including an ambitious premium lounge strategy, which already started with the opening of VIP lounges in Amsterdam and Seoul, an alliance-wide oneworld upgrade program, and deeper more personalized digital capabilities.

“Our priority is to consistently deliver an exceptional travel experience, a best-in-class journey every step of the way. oneworld’s success over the past 25 years is due to the quality relationships between our member airlines and their constant prioritization of guest satisfaction,” Pieper said.

Carsten Spohr, chairman and CEO, Lufthansa, remains confident that the EU ruling from the European Commission will clear the path for the acquisition of ITA Airways.

Lufthansa Remains Bullish on ITA Airways

During a press conference held during the AGM, Carsten Spohr, chairman and CEO, Lufthansa (LH), remained optimistic about hearing a final answer from the European Commission about their proposed takeover of ITA Airways (AZ). Earlier in April, the Commission objected to the takeover, citing that the acquisition “could restrict competition on inbound and outbound routes from Italy.”

“I don't think we are months away [from the decision]. I think we are in the week of decision-making. I think especially the Italian government and the Italian voters expect an answer before the European elections,” Spohr enthused.

The Italian Ministry of Economy owns ITA, which replaced Alitalia in 2021 after years of economic losses.

Pieter Elbers, CEO, IndiGo, showcasing the projected growth of the aviation market in India for the next years.

IndiGo to Host the 81st IATA AGM in Delhi

Indian low-cost operator IndiGo (6E) is set to be the host airline for the 2025 Annual General Meeting, which will take place from June 8-10 in Delhi, India. This will be the third time the IATA AGM has convened in the city, having previously held the AGM there in 1958 and 1983.

“We [IndiGo] are proud to be host airline for the 81st IATA AGM and look forward to welcoming the global aviation community to Delhi in 2025,” Pieter Elbers, CEO, of IndiGo (6E), commented during the event. 

During a press conference held during the AGM, Elbers assured that the rise of India, spurred by what he calls the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ with the use of Artificial Intelligence, will drive the country to become the world’s third-largest economy within the next few years. A growing middle class and a massive investment plan to build and improve airport infrastructure are also driving traffic numbers up.

“Building on aviation as a force for good and India’s unique diversity, we are looking forward to engaging in meaningful dialogues aimed at sculpting the global aviation landscape around important topics such as safety, diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as sustainability, while efficiently delivering the growing global demand for air travel,” Elbers said.

The return of the IATA AGM to India follows a series of record orders from Indian carriers over the last two years. During the 2023 Paris Airshow, IndiGo placed an order for 500 Airbus narrowbody aircraft, and last April, it announced orders for 30 A350-900s. Also, Air India (AI) has committed to up to 540 aircraft from Airbus and Boeing.

“With record aircraft orders, impressive growth, and world-class infrastructure developments, India is firmly on the trajectory to become the world’s third-largest aviation market within this decade.  With such bright prospects, it’s the perfect time for the IATA AGM to return to India and witness these exciting developments firsthand,” Willie Walsh, director general, IATA said.

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