IATA: Tyler ready to take IATA reins

Singapore
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Former Cathay Pacific chief executive Tony Tyler will formally take up his new post as IATA director general at the start of July, taking over the reins with a sharply reduced industry profit outlook and the body having come under fire from a group led by Gulf carriers over transparency concerns.

Tyler will take office at the start of July, replacing long-serving IATA director general Giovanni Bisignani who steps down after ten years at the helm of the airline body.

"I'm very excited to be handed the baton to the next stage of this race," Tyler said at a press conference closing IATA's annual general meeting in Singapore. "I'm very aware of the high expectations expected of me. He's [Bisignani] achieved so much," Tyler said, but noting the continued challenges facing the sector, added: "you know what, there's still just as much to do now as there was then."

IATA has more than halved its 2011 industry profits forecast for this year amid headwinds including higher fuel prices to a $4 billion, less than a quarter of the $18 billion net profit the industry made in 2010.

Stating that Bisignani would be "a hard act to follow", Tyler said that "there is only one Giovanni" and "I'm not going to promise you the same level of entertainment and high drama in AGM speeches".

Tyler told delegates at the IATA AGM that while his style would be different, the goal of delivering results for the industry would be the same. "I don't have bastas up my sleeve," he joked, referring to Bisignani's trademark blasts.

He added that it was too early to talk about his plans for IATA. "My priority right now is to ask questions, listen and learn," he said.

Yesterday saw concerns raised from a group led by the Gulf carriers over transparency at IATA. "There was a clear message yesterday for more involvement," said Tyler, adding that it is good that members want more involvement as it demonstrates IATA remains relevant. "[If] people feel they need more transparency," he said, "we are happy to be transparent. We have nothing to hide".

Welcoming the appointment of a director general from his region, China Southern chairman Si Xianmin said that while Tyler was not a native Asian, his multicultural background meant "he is a good bridge for east and west".

KLM chief executive Peter Hartman meanwhile begins his year term as IATA's chairman of the board of governors, with Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce to serve as chairman from June 2012.

Next year's IATA annual general meeting will be held in Beijing on 10-12 June 2012.