IATA's Leaders over the Years
Since its creation, IATA has been guided by a number of exceptional personalities, whose achievements make today's organization a successful and authoritative airline leader. IATA's history since 1945
2011 - Tony Tyler
2002 - 2011 Giovanni Bisignani
1993 - 2002 Pierre Jean Jeanniot
1985 - 1992 Günter Eser
1966 - 1984 Knut Hammarskjöld
1946 - 1966 Sir William Hildred
2002 to 2011
Giovanni Bisignani, Italian, joined IATA as Director General & CEO after a long career in various transport related businesses including Opodo, SM Logistics, Tirrenia di Navigazione and Alitalia.
During his nearly 10 years with IATA, Mr. Bisignani drove major industry changes. The most important was making the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) a condition of IATA membership. This contributed to a 42% improvement in safety over the period 2000-2010.
Mr. Bisignani also started the Simplifying the Business (StB) initiative in 2004. During his tenure, this program converted the industry to e-ticketing and bar-coded boarding passes, made common-use self-service kiosks as an integral part of the travel experience and established the framework for 100% e-freight by 2015.
Giovanni Bisignani also mobilized the industry behind an ambitious strategy to deal with the impact of the industry’s carbon emissions on climate change. Airlines, airports, air navigation service providers and manufacturers committed to achieve carbon neutral growth by 2020 and cut emissions in half by 2050.
Finally, Mr. Bisignani strengthened IATA’s position as the voice of the industry, with firm advocacy and lobbying to focus government on long term issues for the viability of aviation. He was particularly outspoken on liberalization, taxation and environment.
1993 to 2002
Pierre Jean Jeanniot, Canadian, completed his career at Air Canada as its President & CEO, prior to joining IATA as Director General & CEO.
During his time with IATA, Mr. Jeanniot streamlined the association's governance structures to align with contemporary corporate organizations. Increasing commercial services to airlines and air navigation authorities, he managed to reduce membership dues by half.
Another important achievement was to secure IATA membership for the new airlines of the People’s Republic if China, in addition to establishing an IATA presence in Beijing.
Mr. Jeanniot also led IATA initiatives which successfully modernized the airline liability regime and drove the industry towards new ambitious targets of safety performance.
1985 to 1992
Günter Eser, from Germany had a 30 year career at Lufthansa, ending with a post on its governing board before taking up the position of IATA’s Director General.
The first in a series of airline executives to run the organization, Mr. Eser transformed IATA into a truly global association, expanding membership in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and the former Soviet Union. IATA membership doubled to reach over 200 airlines.
Under his leadership, IATA launched its first commercial services, such as consulting services, marketing research, currency conversion, which allowed to reduce membership dues and invest in industry projects.
Mr. Eser notably led the first industry campaign tackling the growing issue of taxation.
1966 to 1984
Knut Hammarskjöld, a Swedish diplomat, joined IATA from the European Free Trade Association where he held the position of Deputy Secretary General.
As IATA's Director General, Knut Hammarskjöld restructured key parts of the organization's activities, including those concerned with tariff coordination and compliance, to align with the emerging trends of market liberalization in the late seventies.
He launched the first billing and settlement system in Tokyo in 1972, which has evolved into today's successful BSP and CASS, facilitating financial transactions between passenger as well as cargo agents and the airlines.
Mr. Hammarskjöld also initiated the Program for Developing Nations that has evolved into IATA's training activity.
1946 to 1966
Sir William Hildred, a British national, came to IATA from the Civil Aviation Office of Great Britain, where he held the position of Director General.
The first IATA’s Director General, Sir William Hildred was instrumental in the establishment of commercial standards to support post-World War Two aviation.
The creation of the Multilateral Interline Traffic Agreement and the IATA Clearing House supported collaboration among airlines to facilitate global mobility. The introduction of different classes of fares and cheaper tickets, with tourist, economy and even excursion class also led to the greater accessibility of air transport.
Sir William also established the Traffic Conferences to align aviation's commercial activities with the international government framework that emerged from the Chicago Convention and the Bermuda Air Services Agreement.
Under Sir William's leadership, IATA worked closely with ICAO to develop the first Annexes to the Chicago Convention, which laid out the technical and safety standards for the industry.
IATA's complete history