Mr Pasionado speaks

booth photo.JPGLatin aviation pioneer Bobby Booth was recently honoured in Miami by Boeing and ALTA for his numerous contributions to the powerhouse Latin market that according to IATA’s estimates recorded a 10.4% jump in traffic for the 11 months ending November 2011, up from 9% the year prior.

Booth’s deep roots in Latin America date back to his birth in Uruguay, and he has worked tirelessly throughout his 60-plus years in the business that includes 23 years with Braniff, positions at Air Florida and Challenge Air and through consultancy AvMan to both stress cooperation among the region’s airlines and propel the Latin market into one of the fastest and leading geographies of the airline business.

“Commercial aviation in Latin America, at least carrying passengers for hire on a scheduled flight for hire on a regular basis, began in Latin America about six years before the United States,” wrote Booth in his autobiography Airline Pasionado.

Noting Bobby had been preaching alliances, privatisations and cross-equity tie-ups day in and day out, the late Frederico Bloch and long-time chief of Grupo Taca Frederico Bloch wrote in the book’s forward:

“Bobby Booth has gained friendship and trust of most of the airline chiefs and this has allowed him to influence developments in an unselfish manner, with the interest of both airlines and the consumers at heart…Bobby Booth has had much of the responsibility and can take much of the credit for putting Latin American aviation back in the headlines.”

Given the boom in consolidation in Latin America during the last couple of years does Mr. Pasionado believe there is more to come given that Panama‘s Copa is steering an independent course?  Here’s the legend in his own words.

This will be most certainly not  the end…but should be considered the beginning.  Copa is in a position at this time to maintain it’s independence, but must keep an open mind and  watchful eye peeled for merger and/or consolidation  opportunties .  “Times change” and so must businesses if they are to remain viable. The duopoly of the four airlines [Avianca-Taca, LAN-TAM] will enhance destination  marketing efforts which in turn will create more passengers…not to mention the increased potential for cargo growth.”

And how does Latin America sustain its momentum? Booth believes keeping the governments focused on expanding liberalization and further bolstering of alliances is key to the region in retaining its premiere growth status. 

“In order to keep the momentum high and going in the right direction, there must  to be a continuing awarness on the part of Governments in the region of the need for more “Open Skies” agreements and the need to fund the government tourist boards for destination promotion.  Airlines must agreesively persue codeshare agreements alliances opportunties and be  open to joint destination promotional  funding and airports open to  incentitive payments for  the launching of new routes.

In case you’re wondering, Pasionado is a word Booth has coined for himself — a combination of passion and aficionado, “which is clearly what I’m all about”.

 

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