My main objective as IATA DG and CEO is to help the business of freedom succeed by adding value to the industry.

Aviation is a truly unique and amazing industry. This year 3.8 billion travelers and over 50 million tonnes of cargo will be transported safely by air. That activity will generate $2.7 trillion in economic activity. And it will provide employment to some 63 million people. Indisputably, aviation makes our world a better place.

As I settle into my role as IATA’s DG and CEO, I am mindful of just how important aviation is. For Tony Tyler, my predecessor, the rallying cry was that aviation is a force for good. I have a complementary view about which I am also passionate. For me, aviation is the business of freedom.

The jobs and opportunities created by aviation are vital to modern life. The benefits of friendships built across oceans, business concluded between continents or ideas exchanged across borders are immeasurable. Bridging vast distances with speed helps people build better lives. The business of freedom is powerful.

I intend to tell the story of the business of freedom to all who will listen—especially our friends in government. In doing so, I will also remind them of three important points. First, the industry’s success cannot be taken for granted. Second, governments are critical partners—not spectators—for the industry’s future well-being. And finally, global standards are at the core of the economic and social value that aviation creates.

By nature, I am a positive person. For me, IATA’s long “to do” list—battling excessive taxes, working with governments to replace onerous rules with smarter regulation, finding solutions to infrastructure constraints, improving the customer experience, modernizing global standards, implementing sustainability measures and much more—means that this is a job full of great possibilities.

Those possibilities will not be realized by IATA alone. Partnerships for change are absolutely essential. So are speed and innovation. The pace of technology-driven change has never been so fast. And our customers have never had so much information at their fingertips. Meeting their evolving expectations—particularly for personalized products and experiences—will not be easy.

My main objective as IATA DG and CEO is to help the business of freedom succeed by adding value to the industry. Part of that will be fulfilled by continuing our well-established agenda under the guidance of our Board of Governors. That’s why these themes will sound familiar.

But continuity alone will not secure the future—for our association or for the industry. Innovation with speed must also be in the picture. In less than two decades our industry will double in size. While addressing the problems of the day, the business of freedom will require us to plan and work together with our partners and with completely open minds, for a potentially very different future… not that far from now! 

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