IATA Annual Meeting 2012 – best of the quotes

A selection of quotes, significant, trivial and amusing, extracted from my notebook following the 68th Annual General Meeting of IATA that took place in Beijing from 10-12 June.



“I want emphasise this is your AGM…agree or disagree we want to hear from you.” Tony Tyler, IATA director general. Nobody said anything – in public at least.

dragon Tyler_resized.jpg“There is no need for the Chinese to retaliate as China has ordered their airlines not to participate so that avoids the problem.” Tony Tyler, IATA director general, responding to a question on the European Emissions Trading System at a press conference.

“I think I’m British myself.” Tony Tyler wryly responds to a question at the press conference from a British newspaper scribe on whether the UK would be missing out if a third runway at London Heathrow is not built. He doesn’t want the UK to lose out either!

“I know many airlines cannot wait for the GDSs to meet their needs.” Tony Tyler in announcing IATA’s move into global standard setting around airline distribution and especially integrating the sale of ancillaries into the booking process.

“The board has been very pleased with the input from our 242 members on the proposed changes – it shows how much interest you have in IATA.” Peter Hartman, IATA Board chairman and KLM chief executive, outlining changes to IATA’s rules and regulations.

“The basket of changes is an improvement but it is not the last word.” Peter Hartman, IATA Board chairman and KLM chief executive.

“Qatar Airways has agreed to second this motion.” Peter Hartman, IATA Board chairman and KLM chief executive. This deceptively simple sentence showed Akbar Al Baker, 2011′s main dissenting voice, had bought into IATA’s raft of changes. Peace had broken out.

“There is a breath of fresh air into IATA.” Akbar Al Baker, chief executive (seen below right), Qatar Airways, asked if he is satisfied with the changes being made at IATA.

CEO Forum_resized.jpg“I am happy to speak out…many do not have the courage to speak out.” Akbar Al Baker, chief executive, Qatar Airways.

“I would like to thank everyone for their confidence in me by voting me on to the Board of Governors.” Akbar Al Baker, chief executive, Qatar Airways joined IATA’s inner circle at the 2012 AGM.

“I will still piss when I am not satisfied.” Akbar Al Baker, chief executive, Qatar Airways when it was put to him by CNN’s Richard Quest that perhaps IATA’s top airlines felt it would be better to have the vocal Gulf carrier boss heard “pissing” inside the tent rather than “pissing” in from the outside.

“You must be pissed off.” CNN anchor Richard Quest (below left) asks outgoing Thai Airways president Piyasvasti Amranand about being booted out by the carrier’s board (he is).

“I see oil prices staying high and volatile for a long time.” Bronwyn Curtis, chief economist (above left), HSBC.

“People think we have a basket of money under our desks and we just keep on using it…this is just not correct.” Akbar Al Baker, chief executive, Qatar Airways on the perception in the west that the Gulf carriers have unlimited government funding.

“If everyone is treated equally badly, I don’t mind, that is OK.” Thai’s Piyasvasti Amranand (below right) on whether states should support their airlines.

CEO Forum2_resized.jpg“Forget about all this crap talks about ETS and other taxes.” Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways, gives his advice to governments who don’t support their air transport industry.

“Regulators think the sun shines through their assholes…it is time for them to sit down and let airlines get on with their business.” Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways.

“It doesn’t work on its own.” Alan Joyce, chief executive of Qantas, explains that a network carrier can only be successful running a low-cost long-haul unit if it has the feed from short-haul services.

“I will not tell you.” Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways, when asked if his carrier is going to join an alliance.

“In their present form, probably yes.” Tim Clark, president Emirates on whether the days of the global airline alliances are numbered.

“[Airlines] will disengage from the old ways of doing business in alliance structures.” Tim Clark, Emirates.

“There will be fewer CEOs sitting here…a lot of airlines will be missing from the scene.” Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways, on what the industry could look like at the 2013 AGM.



For the simply sublime daily papers published on site in Beijing at the AGM go here.

For my blog on the amazing goings-on – the “Arab ambush” – of the 2011 AGM go here.

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