A keen skier, Tony Tyler admits one appeal of the IATA director general’s job was relocating close to the Swiss Alps. “Living in Geneva for five years was something I very much wanted to do,” he says. “I’ve always gone skiing and despite all the travel with this job I have managed to get away to the ski slopes. One of the attractions of going to live in Geneva was that you’ve got world-class skiing within an hour of your front door.”
Tyler, a British national, was born in Egypt in 1955 and graduated from Oxford University in jurisprudence. He began his Cathay career in 1978 when he moved within its parent, Hong Kong-based Swire Group, to join the airline. He went on to hold various senior positions before becoming chief executive in 2007. Tyler served on the IATA board of governors from 2007 to 2011 and was its 2009-2010 chairman.
Being director general of IATA is “a very different job” from running an airline, he says. “There are some things you miss and some you don’t. Running an airline is one of the most stressful jobs you can think of – you’ve got 24h responsibility for peoples’ lives. I don’t have that anymore and although I was happy to take that responsibility, I don’t mind not having it.
“On the other hand, I now have responsibility for $367 billion of airline money and I know that while everybody might have been happy at the AGM, they’ll get unhappy pretty quickly if IATA doesn’t account for all that money. If you stuff up the airline industry, you’ll stuff up the global economy, so what I’m doing now is very important.”