(Washington) -- On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the first powered flight, IATA launched a new Global Aviation Leadership Award - GALA - at its World Air Transport Summit. GALA has been launched to recognize an extraordinary individual who has made an outstanding contribution to air transport.

"It is a pleasure and a great honour for me to present this first GALA award to Dr. Assad Kotaite," said Leo Mullin, Chairman and CEO of Delta Air Lines and President of the IATA Annual General Meeting. "The Montreal Convention, the modernization of the Chicago Convention, the efforts to create a new framework for war risk insurance - these are but a few of the vital industry achievements that characterize Dr. Kotaite's accomplished career."

Dr. Kotaite is a jurist by training. He served in the 1950s as Lebanon's representative to ICAO. In 1970, he was elected Secretary General of the organization and in 1976 he accepted his current position of President of the Council of ICAO.

For more than three decades, he has provided unfailing leadership in promoting close co-operation between ICAO, its contracting States and the members of the world civil aviation community.

Dr. Kotaite has given fifty years of his life to the cause of civil aviation. He has been behind all the great international rules and regulations that make the air transport industry such a universal example in terms of safety and security.

"Dr. Kotaite's accomplishments surely make him one of the most outstanding figures of the first century of aviation. He is a natural choice for this distinction," said IATA Director General & CEO Giovanni Bisignani.