IATA AGM: Chairman Tony Tyler reflects on a turbulent year

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Tony Tyler took over as IATA chairman in mid-2009, replacing Samer Majali in the role. At last year's AGM, as Majali vacated the position, he described his term as "tumultuous".

With Tyler now also preparing to step down, his stint has hardly been a bed of roses. "I took over at about the worst time as far as the impact of the global financial crisis on the airline industry was concerned. Since then, airlines in some parts of the world have seen some recovery in premium traffic and in their cargo businesses.

"But these remain very difficult times for the industry. And things can always get worse and new crises emerge suddenly - the European airspace closures are a good example. However, notwithstanding all this, IATA members have done an outstanding job of continuing to move passengers and freight around the world safely and comfortably, while providing excellent value!"

tony tyler, billypix
"It has been another 'typical' year for the industry, characterised by various small and large crises"
Tony Tyler
Chief executive, Cathay Pacific Airways

The industry's big issues are obvious to many, but Tyler summarises them like this: "The challenges are continued high fuel prices and other costs, very competitive markets, overlapping and costly regulation, often inadequate infrastructure, continued weak demand in many markets, etc." As far as opportunities go there is "growth in some markets and improved efficiencies".

In the past decade each IATA chairman has had some crisis or other to cope with during their period of office, but Tyler has had more than most. "It has been another 'typical' year for the industry, characterised by difficult operating conditions and various small and large crises," he says. "One lasting memory will be of telephone conversations with Giovanni during the airspace closures in April as he sped from one European capital to another - by car!"