Last week, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that Willie Walsh officially took on the role of Director-General of the organization. Walsh succeeds Alexandre de Juniac, who held the position for almost five years.
Walsh was confirmed as IATA’s 8th Director-General by the 76th IATA Annual General Meeting on 24 November 2020. He joins IATA after a 40-year career in the airline industry. Walsh retired from the International Airlines Group (IAG) in September 2020 after serving as its CEO since its inception in 2011. Prior to that, he was CEO of British Airways (2005-2011) and CEO of Aer Lingus (2001-2005). He began his career in aviation at Aer Lingus in 1979 as a cadet pilot. He had this to say via the announcement:
“I am passionate about our industry and about the critical work that IATA does on behalf of its members, never more so than during the COVID-19 crisis. IATA has been at the forefront of efforts to restart global connectivity, including developing the IATA Travel Pass. Less visible but of equal importance, airlines continue to rely on IATA’s financial settlement systems, Timatic and other vital services to support their day-to-day operations. I am grateful to Alexandre for leaving behind a strong organization and a motivated team.”
Walsh went on to outline IATA team focus on restoring the freedom of movement that airlines provide for billions of people around the world for business and for pleasure. He said he’s set the goal of ensuring that IATA remains the strong voice for air transportation while maintaining a commitment to forging a more sustainable industry.
Walsh is deeply familiar with IATA, having served on the IATA Board of Governors for almost 13 years between 2005 to 2018, including serving as Chair (2016-2017). He will work from the Association’s Executive Office in Geneva, Switzerland.