Singapore Transport Minister Raymond Lim, Director General Yap Ong Heng, Florida Eser, friends and colleagues. It is always a pleasure to be in Singapore. And even more so on this special occasion as we sign this Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government of Singapore.
IATA in Singapore
Singapore is special to IATA. It is our growing headquarters for Asia-Pacific. From here we drive IATA’s priorities, from safety and security to improving efficiencies across a vast geography; from Pakistan in the West, to Japan in the East, and New Zealand in the South.
We are just completing a further consolidation in Singapore of our over $45 billion regional settlement activities. That will see staffing rise to 90 employees by June. And we do this with much appreciation for the effective support that we receive from the Government of Singapore.
Today’s MoU signing will take the excellent relationship between IATA and Singapore to a new level. The opportunities created by this MoU will strengthen IATA’s presence in the region through our Singapore operations, and provide a solid platform for growth to meet future challenges. I thank the various government organizations, including the Ministry of Transport, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, and especially the Economic Development Board and its team of motivated professionals for making this MoU a reality.
Our special relationship with Singapore also extends to academia and human capital development. Our vision is to make Singapore the platform for the development of a new generation of aviation executives leading the growth of aviation in Asia. Last year, our regional training center in Singapore became our most important in the world in terms of students and programs offered.
We also signed an important partnership agreement with the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) that is moving ahead very quickly. From September, we will offer an Advanced Management Program in air transport management. And next year, we will launch an Executive MBA in partnership with the NTU Business School, represented here by Dean Professor Gillian Yeo, whom I would like to thank.
In this context, today I am very pleased to announce IATA funding for two new aviation scholarships. With a total value of $650,000, these scholarships will sponsor up to 12 individuals attending the Executive MBA program. The scholarships are named after former IATA Directors General. Sir William Hildred was IATA’s first Director General from 1946 to 1966 and Guenter Eser, who led IATA during the turbulent years from 1985 to 1992. Gunter was instrumental in expanding IATA’s membership with Asian carriers including Singapore Airlines which joined in 1990.
Today we are honored to have Gunter’s widow Florida join us in Singapore. I am confident that through these scholarships, the examples of both Sir William Hildred and Gunter Eser will inspire a new generational leadership to further develop our great industry.
Discussing our industry’s future is also part of our agenda for Singapore. Over the weekend, 35 strategic thinkers will join me for Vision 2050. These include CEOs, industry wise men, politicians, technology experts and economists. Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew will provide advice from his long history of achievements and capacity to look forward. Harvard University’s Professor Michael Porter will also provide his expertise on competitiveness.
Together we will look ahead four decades with the aim of laying the foundation for the industry to have the technology and infrastructure to sustainably and profitably meet the needs of 16 billion passengers.
These are just some examples that illustrate the significance of Singapore to IATA. We are committed to growing our presence and delivering a win-win situation for both IATA and Singapore. It now gives me great pleasure to invite our good friend, Minister Raymond Lim, to address us.