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Key Takeaways: IATA Annual General Meeting 2024

DUBAI – The leaders of the global airline industry are gathering in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), for the 80th IATA Annual General Meeting (AGM) and World Air Transport Summit. In this year’s AGM, topics such as geopolitical and economic challenges, sustainability, and the future of Artificial Intelligence in the air travel industry are under the spotlight.

The gathering, hosted by Emirates (EK) is the first of its kind in Dubai and has brought together over 1,500 participants, including IATA’s member airlines, strategic partners, original equipment manufacturers, suppliers, and media representatives.

“Dubai’s world-leading connectivity places it at the crossroads of the planet. And it will soon be the center of the airline industry’s leadership as it hosts the 80th IATA Annual General Meeting and World Air Transport Summit,” said Willie Walsh, Director General, IATA during the opening ceremony.

The IATA chief highlighted that aviation contributed 27% last year to Dubai’s gross domestic product, and supported US$37 billion in gross value added.

Emirates A6-EOD Airbus A380-861. Photo: Luca Flores/Airways

Profit Forecast Improves For 2024

During the opening ceremony, Willie Walsh announced strengthened profitability projections for airlines in 2024 compared with its June and December 2023 forecasts. Net profits are expected to reach US$30.5 billion in 2024 (3.1% net profit margin). That will be an improvement in 2023 when net profits were estimated at $27.4 billion (3.0% net profit margin).

“With a record five billion air travelers expected in 2024, the human need to fly has never been stronger. Moreover, the global economy counts on air cargo to deliver the $8.3 trillion of trade that gets to customers by air,” Walsh commented.
Egyptair SU-GDT Airbus A330-343. Photo: Lorenzo Giacobbo/Airways

Challenges Persist Despite Blocked Funds Decrease

IATA also announced a substantial decrease of nearly US$1.8 billion in airline funds previously blocked by governments from repatriation of revenue from the sale of tickets and cargo space in local currencies.  This reduction has been observed as of the end of April and represents a 28% decrease, according to a statement issued by the association.

Moreover, IATA also called for governments to lift all barriers to airlines repatriating their revenues from ticket sales and other activities in accordance with international agreements and treaty obligations.

“The reduction in blocked funds is a positive development. The remaining $1.8 billion, however, is significant and must be urgently addressed. The efficient repatriation of airline revenues is guaranteed in bilateral agreements,” Walsh said.

IATA further clarified that the main driver of the reduction was a significant clearance of funds blocked in Nigeria. Egypt also approved the clearance of its significant accumulation of blocked funds. However, in both cases, airlines were adversely affected by the devaluation of the Egyptian Pound and the Nigerian Naira.

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