Before the start of this panel focused on insights from CEOs, Richard Quest and Willie Walsh took the opportunity to have a short conversation on Willie’s role as IATA’s DG, some of the challenges that the industry is facing as traffic and demand are on the rise, but also lessons from the pandemic and long-term sustainability for the industry. “The industry faces challenges, but the entire sector is committed to tackling these, serve our customers the best we can and grow sustainably” said Walsh.
As the industry restarts after the COVID-19 pandemic, participants were keen to hear from CEOs about their experiences driving their companies through the worst crisis in the history of aviation. Moderated by CNN anchor Richard Quest, the panel featured Jayne Hrdlicka (Virgin Australia), Adrian Neuhauser (Avianca) and Akbar Al Baker (Qatar Airways). The discussions focused on the decisions taken during the crisis to ensure that companies would survive, from restructuration, cost control, fleet renewal or gambles to be best positioned to serve their markets.
The discussion also touched upon some of the lessons learned over the last months – “know your market” came up regularly as the best piece of advice from the executives -, the high prices of oil and their impact on the running of an airline, but also the priorities for these executives for the future. “We need the entire value chain, including airlines, airports, partners and governments, to work together in addressing some of the bottlenecks and challenges parts of the industry is facing” said Al Baker.