CEO says industry continues to have positive impact on the world

The 72nd IATA Annual General Meeting and World Air Transport Summit in Dublin was a momentous occasion. Under the theme of aviation as a force for good, our members united on the important issues of sustainability, fighting terrorism, and ending the illegal trafficking of wildlife. Aviation is committed to being a good corporate citizen in our globalized world.

Our core business makes an impressive contribution to that goal. Every day, airlines safely board 10 million people and 140,000 tonnes of cargo, take them to incredible heights, and safely return them to land many kilometers away. We do this so reliably that this amazing activity is routine.

This is achieved with the highest of technical skills, a huge amount of planning, and painstaking coordination among partners. The global system must be safe, secure, and sustainable. From the customer perspective, it must work seamlessly. And our investors and employees depend on airlines to be viable businesses. The struggle to keep revenues ahead of costs is very real. Airlines are expected to post a record collective profit this year—some $39.4 billion. That’s still a relatively thin 5.6% net profit margin.

All businesses face challenges. But there are a few things that make aviation special.

The first is aviation’s ability to come together to find and implement solutions.

Our work on sustainability is a great example. The industry has a common strategy and goals. Building on this foundation, we are united in asking governments at the ICAO Assembly later this year to agree a global, market-based measure to manage our carbon footprint. And this story of cooperation is repeated for safety, efficiency, and all of the other aspects of flying that rest on global standards.

The second is the positive impact that aviation has on our world.

Our work shrinks distances, connects people, and links businesses. That unleashes powerful forces. Economic activity creates jobs. Global understanding satisfies curiosity, underpins peace, and catalyzes innovation.

The freedom to move and explore empowers life-changing decisions. And personal ties sustained over vast distances keep families together and support life-long friendships.

These messages give potent justification to our demands for governments to ensure that global standards are respected; taxes are reasonable; infrastructure is efficient, sufficient and affordable; and that regulation becomes ever smarter. These are prerequisites for airlines to meet efficiently the word’s thirst for connectivity that only aviation can deliver.

On 1 September, after nearly 40 years in the business, including five years at the helm of IATA, I will retire, handing over the leadership of IATA to Alexandre de Juniac.

IATA’s vision is to be the force for value creation and innovation, driving a safe, secure, and profitable air transport industry that sustainably connects and enriches our world.

With the continued support of our members and partners, I am confident that Alexandre will keep true to that vision, make the association increasingly relevant to the business of its members, and take our important industry to even greater heights.