The potential problem posed by infectious viral disease pandemics was highlighted during his introductory speech by former IATA director general Pierre Jeanniot at the opening of the World AIr Transport Forum here in Paris.
Jeanniot said that a year on from the 2007 Forum, where the talk was all about aviation’s impact on the environment, pandemics were “another bête noir to worry about – they are a hidden problem”.
Today’s air transport system allows “worldwide infectious death” to circle the globe in a matter of hours potentially with devasating effect, he said.
Little has been done to develop effective drugs to combat these diseases, said Jeanniot, who bemoaned the amount of research going on in this field.
It is with this in mind that he is becoming the chairman of an international not-for-profit consortium called the Foundation on Antivirals – FAV - to invest in research to combat this problem.
Honorary patrons of the foundation are former French president Jacques Chirac and former Canadian prime minister Jean Chretien.