Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Akbar al-Baker has assumed his duties as chairman of the IATA Board of Governors (BoG) for a one-year term, effective from the conclusion of the 74th IATA Annual General Meeting which ended in Sydney on Tuesday.
Al-Baker is the 77th chair of the IATA BoG and the first CEO from Qatar Airways to hold the position. He has served on the BoG since 2012.
He succeeds Goh Choon Phong, CEO of Singapore Airlines.
Following his taking over the new responsibility at the helm of IATA, the global trade body some 290 airlines, al-Baker, said, "I am delighted to be here in Sydney and honoured to be leading the IATA Board of Governors as Chairman for the year ahead. To be nominated to such a prestigious leadership position in the industry is a great honour, made all the more pertinent in the difficult circumstances in which Qatar Airways currently operates.
"I look forward to continuing my work in the coming year for our great aviation industry, connecting safely the peoples of the world, a sector which will only continue to grow in the years ahead, and one in which I am most proud to work and represent one of the world's leading airlines."
Later, addressing a packed press conference at the International Convention Centre in Sydney, the venue of the 74th IATA AGM and the World Air Transport Summit, al-Baker said the global trade body would have to collectively face challenges facing the key aviation industry.
Some of the challenges are human trafficking, making airlines more secure during turbulent times in the global political scene, fighting terrorism, and regional conflicts, higher oil price that put a lot of pressure on the industry and private airports that levy excessive charges on airlines. Also, we will have to finds ways to reduce costs and make sure the airlines maintain the upward trend in their performance.”
Al-Baker was named Qatar Airways’ Group Chief Executive in 1997. In this position, al-Baker has spearheaded the growth of Qatar Airways from a small regional carrier into a major global airline.
He was president of the 70th AGM which was held in Doha in 2014.
IATA’s director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said, "I want to thank Goh Choon Phong for his strong support and leadership over the past year. He has led major changes in IATA’s governance that will enable the association to work even more closely with its members. Under his leadership the industry approved a major modernisation of our settlement systems, and made excellent progress on transformative initiatives such as New Distribution Capability and ONE Order.
“Choon Phong’s insights were particularly helpful as we contended with the PEDs ban and growing infrastructure capacity shortfalls in key regions, while also working with governments to prepare for the arrival of the historic CORSIA program to help airlines manage their future emissions growth."
"I am confident that Akbar will be a strong voice on behalf of the Business of Freedom in the face of growing challenges including creeping re-regulation and a movement away from open borders and toward trade protectionism and restrictions on the free movement of people. I look forward to working with him on these and other key industry issues.
IATA also announced that Carsten Spohr, chairman and CEO of Lufthansa, will serve as chairman of the BoG from June 2019, following al-Baker’s term.