Former IAG chief Willie Walsh has promised a “different style” of leadership when he takes over from Alexandre de Juniac as the director general of IATA in April 2021 – particularly when it comes to working with governments.
“My style will be different to what has gone before me,” Walsh says during a speech today to the airline industry body’s AGM, at which his appointment was rubber-stamped.
“I am even more unhappy and more critical of how [governments] get things done,” he states, referring to the approach taken by previous heads of IATA. “But more importantly, in many cases, how [governments] have failed to get things done.”
Highlighting his “passion for this industry and a passion for IATA”, Walsh adds that “we need now, more than ever, an effective industry body to serve and respond to our interests”.
Indeed, he complains that passengers have not been “denied the freedom” to travel by Covid-19. Rather, he believes they have been stopped “by a disjointed response and by the restrictions that have been put in place by certain governments”.
Walsh notes, however, that “IATA cannot lead if no one follows”, adding: “We must be relevant and we must add value to [IATA member airlines]. This will only happen if we serve and represent [the industry] with passion, with energy, with determination and with action.”
The former pilot, who went on to lead Aer Lingus and British Airways before he took the helm at IAG, also acknowledges that “there is good news”.
Stating that “the building blocks are now in place to allow our industry to get back to the business of freedom”, he adds that stakeholders “should be confident that we will succeed in this changed environment”.
“We have a lot of minds to change, and I look forward to working with you to do just that,” Walsh concludes.