Special Report - Taking Training to the Regions
The International Airline Training Fund (IATF) - a not-for-profit foundation that offers training as a means to a sustainable future for IATA member airlines in developing countries—is still delivering quality content to airlines of developing nations, despite the economic downturn.
Overall, in 2009 IATF trained 1,464 people through 81 training events.
IATF has had to confront a number of challenges, however. Donations—usually an important source of additional revenue—dropped to zero. The overall budget was greatly reduced and, in some cases, the customer airlines did not even have the resources for flights and accommodation for personnel.
Oscar Haro, Manager, IATF, says answers had to be found. “We couldn’t disappoint our customers, but we couldn’t rely on the same level of monetary support either,” he says. “We had to re-evaluate our methodology and come up with innovative solutions.”
As the IATF audience—IATA member airlines in developing countries and their staff—was asking for crisis-relevant content, one answer was to work through the IATA Risk Management department to deliver courses on this important subject. The IATF had previously focused on safety and IATA Operational Safety Audit requirements but that is largely completed. Risk management was the next priority.
“Through IATA’s Risk Management department, we delivered 11 four-day courses in 2009,” says Haro. “This is a vital area for airlines, especially in light of the economic crisis. Part of the course looks at risk management for the whole enterprise.”
Another solution for the IATF was “donations in kind.” Airbus offered training courses in airline management through its subsidiary AirBusiness Academy. Three courses were run in 2009—benefiting Air Astana, China Eastern and Tunis Air—and there are more on offer in 2010.
IATA matched Airbus’ generosity and offered (above and beyond its usual IATF commitment) 10 courses in 2009, training 226 people. The courses included three hosted by Syrian Airlines in Damascus, on Advanced Safety Management Systems, Instructional Design and Instructional Techniques. The latter two subjects were also covered in Mahan Air-hosted events in Tehran. Cubana de Aviacion hosted two events in Havana on Safety Management Systems, and Advanced Passenger Fares and Ticketing. Iran Air, AFRAA/Egyptair and Biman Bangladesh each hosted one event on IATA’s Safety Audit for Ground Operations, Cost Reduction Strategies and Managing People Performance respectively.
Focus on Africa
With the mandatory funds it received from IATA member airlines, IATF was able to keep up a strong regional program in Africa and the Middle East. It delivered 58 courses in 2009, which—although less than 2008 levels when greater resources were on offer—is an improvement on 2007 figures and a considerable achievement under the circumstances. “The focus for the regional program is still Africa,” says Haro, “but last year we also did a lot of work in Syria and Iran.”
About 128 personnel also received assistance from the IATF scholarship program, which gives staff of developing nations’ airlines the chance to attend courses at any of the IATA Training Centers.
Formal decisions on strategy in the years ahead have yet to be made, but Haro says he will look to incorporate the move into competency-based training. “We will look less at theory and more at practical implementation,” he insists. “We want airlines to say this is our problem so please train us on this aspect, rather than have them have to choose from our list of courses.”