Chinedu Eze in Geneva
In reaction to the tragic air crashes in Colombia and Pakistan within one week, in which 118 people died, the Director General and Chief Executive Officer of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Alexander de Juniac, has called for the improvement of safety and security in the air transport industry.
He also spoke on the need for government to collaborate and intensify efforts to ensure efficient security system at airports in the face of terror attacks and insider threats.
In his remarks at the IATA Global Media Day in Geneva, Switzerland, yesterday, de Juniac noted that the success of global aviation rests on safety, security, sustainability and in meeting global standards.
He said flying is safe, but not free from accidents, observing that in the last one week, “we have had two tragedies, one in Pakistan and the other in Colombia,” adding that every accident makes the association more determined to make the industry safer.
The IATA CEO said along with the desire to improve safety in air operation, is also the desire to improve security at airports, noting that over the last year, two airports have been attacked; there was an attempt to bomb a jet airliner, which failed, and terrorists had laid claim to downing an aircraft and “popular tourist destinations have seen bloodshed.”
He said a recent United Nations Security Council Resolution should remind governments that keeping aviation secure is integral to a state responsibility for national security, adding that governments can and must do more by upping the game on intelligence gathering and sharing vital information among themselves and with the industry, “that is the only way that terrorists can be kept away from airports and aircraft.”
De Juniac emphasised that safety, security, sustainability and global standards are at the core of aviation’s existence, remarking that while respecting these critical items, airlines must run efficient businesses and generate enough surplus to reward their shareholders.
“I know from first-hand experience how difficult that is. In fact, if we look at aviation’s history, we have a pretty poor record when it comes to profitability,” he said.
However, De Juniac also acknowledged that in recent years there have been improvement in airlines’ profitability and the net profits have been generated in every year by airlines since 2010.
“That is impressive considering that oil prices averaged at or above $100 per barrel of Brent for three of those years. The transformation of the industry in recent years is making airlines better businesses, and it is helping airlines to better serve the nearly four billion travellers we expect in 2017,” he said.