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IATA has headquarters in both Montreal and Geneva. Some member airline chief executives might regard this as unnecessary extravagance, particularly given the costs that can be associated with life in the Swiss city.
“Montreal is IATA’s home and having a second headquarters [in Geneva] is not as illogical as it might appear,” says Tony Tyler.
“No member has said seriously ‘you’ve got to review this’, but if the board wanted me to, I would.
“The overall structure of IATA might look a bit odd from the outside, but the reason we have an office in Montreal is we are actually a Canadian organisation, and – by the way – we are located just across from ICAO which time and again has proved its value.”
When IATA decided to create a European base some years ago for time zone reasons and to be close to its European members, Geneva “won the beauty contest”, says Tyler. It is also a good location for running the financial aspects of IATA’s business.
“The Swiss authorities are very pragmatic about attracting international organisations and they give us very favourable treatment. So although it is a costly place to operate, from IATA’s point of view it’s a lot less costly than it appears from the outside.”
Tyler adds that the association owns its building, meaning it does not have to pay rent which keeps costs down.
“If we were to close the Geneva office, the obvious thing to do would be to consolidate in Montreal, but we’d lose quite a lot of good people. Geneva is an attractive location and an easy place to recruit to.”