650 aviation bosses head to Iata annual general meeting

Around 650 aviation industry bosses are travelling to Beijing for the 68th Iata annual general meeting which starts on Monday.

Issues up for debate include social media and air transport, the future of airline distribution and use of biofuels.

The meeting comes against the backdrop of rising fuel prices and the eurozone financial crisis.

Iata announced its industry outlook in March for a $3 billion profit on $633 billion in revenues for a net margin of 0.5% this year.

The association will revise the outlook on Monday taking into consideration the volatility over recent months.

Iata director general and chief executive Tony Tyler said: “Oil prices are high, although moderating somewhat from recent peaks. The European sovereign debt crisis is unresolved and we are seeing signs that it is starting to affect Asia’s export-driven economies.

“And the largely jobless recovery from the 2008 global financial crisis is proceeding at a glacial pace.

“Passenger demand is strong, cargo is weak and the industry’s profitability remains razor thin.”

Two panel discussions will feature on the opening day of the annual general meeting. The CEO Forum will feature Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways; Piyasvasti Amranand, Thai Airways; Bronwyn Curtis, HSBC; Alex Dichter, McKinsey & Company; Alan Joyce, Qantas and John Slosar, Cathay Pacific.

There will also be a session on doing business in China. Half of the industry’s aggregate profits in 2011 were earned by Chinese airlines and three of the world’s 10 largest Iata carriers by passenger numbers are based in the country.

China is the second largest airline market in the world with 300 million travellers and industry revenues of $57.6 billion last year. It is in the process of adding 70 new airports between 2011 and 2015 with 97 airports to be built by 2020.

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