Fasten your seat belts, turbulence ahead

As the global air industry begins to lose altitude after a profitable 2007, the chief of industry association IATA renews his attack on what he sees as the impediments to financial sustainability of the industry ¨C the triumvirate of the bilateral system, restrictive national ownership rules and attitude of competition authorities. Donald Urquhart r

As the point man for virtually entire global commercial aviation industry Giovanni Bisignani, director general and CEO of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) is a very busy man.

On his plate are myriad issues ranging from spiralling fuel prices, safety, the environment, international regulations, security and the list goes on…and on. In the same instance Bisignani must juggle the roles of corporate business leader, chief marketer, chief negotiator and in a way, diplomat.

It’s a role the affable and downright charming former head of Alitalia appears to cherish with a passion and verve that’s hard to match. It becomes clear when talking with Bisignani that his knowledge of the industry, its challenges, pitfalls and potential, is both expansive and incisive.

As head of the 60-year-old organisation which represents some 240 airlines comprising 94 per cent of scheduled international air traffic, IATA has evolved into an articulate, well-organised and highly respected industry voice since he took the helm in 2002.

And importantly for its members, it has also become a potent force of change – not always winning adoration from that very membership – by setting the bar for its members very high, particularly in key areas like safety.