Drama at IATA AGM as family feud breaks out

The normally well-oiled IATA machine had a spanner thrown in its works during the first session of its annual general meeting when Gulf carriers mounted a stinging verbal assault on what they said was a lack of transparency and proper representation within the carrier organisation. Leading the charge, Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker […]


Akbar Al Baker Emirates Etihad IATA AGM International Air Transport Association Qatar Airways transparency


The normally well-oiled IATA machine had a spanner thrown in its works during the first session of its annual general meeting when Gulf carriers mounted a stinging verbal assault on what they said was a lack of transparency and proper representation within the carrier organisation. Leading the charge, Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker first questioned the auditing process for IATA’s 2010 financial statement, and then what he described as the “surprise” nomination of Etihad boss James Hogan to fill the extra seat created to broaden the representation of carriers from Middle East. “We believe such issues should not be surprises,” Al Baker said. Firstly, such decisions should be transparent and secondly, if geographical representation is the basis of the composition of the board, the airlines involved should be informed in advance of their regional allotments so that they can co-ordinate who should represent them.” The issue of broader board representation was also taken up by other carriers, some who pointed to the need for the views of smaller carriers to also be taken into account. “Clearly there is the view that this is an entity that is run for the few by the few, and that has to end,” said Emirates Airline president Tim Clark. “You must, in the view of Emirates, open up the dialogue far more, we need to see action.” Among the IATA expenditures which Al Baker highlighted, was US$18 million for travel, $58 million on data processing and IT and $29 million on outsourcing and consultancy. He called upon IATA to justify “such large sums spent on travel” and the processes by which consultant and outsourcing contracts were awarded. The tension carried over to a vote, which originally scheduled to be merely a show of hands, was changed to a secret ballot.