IATA honors Cho with top posts

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IATA honors Cho with top posts


From left, Alexandre de Juniac, director general and CEO of the International Air Transport Association; Kim Hyun-mee, minister of land, infrastructure and transport; and Cho Won-Tae, president of Korean Air pose for a photo at IATA AGM. [KOREAN AIR]

Korean Air President Cho Won-tae was nominated and appointed to the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) Board of Governors on Sunday.

He was also chosen as president of the international organization’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), which is being held in Seoul for the first time ever. The three-day, 75th AGM kicked off on Saturday.

While Cho Yang-ho, the late chairman of Korean Air, was expected to lead the summit, he died suddenly in April, and his son took over as leader of Korea’s largest airline.

The Board of Governors is the top decision-making body of IATA, a global airline standards setting organization with some 290 members. The 32 members of the board are the chief executives of global airlines and a director general.

The late Cho was elected to the board eight times.

The younger Cho’s term on the board will last three years, through 2022. A spokesperson from Korean Air said Cho was nominated despite tough competition.

“It was my father’s wish that this event be a meaningful review and celebration of our industry,” the Korean Air chief said while leading the opening ceremony on Sunday. “He would be very proud.”

Before taking up discussion of major items on the AGM agenda, some thousand participants, including airline chief executives, aviation experts and media, paid silent tribute to Cho Yang-ho.

“The AGM in Seoul is what he [Cho Yang-ho] did,” Alexandre de Juniac, director general and CEO of IATA, said in an interview with the Korea JoongAng Daily held Wednesday.

Major items discussed during the summit included: how the aviation industry should tackle environmental challenges; how to diversify the workforce, especially in terms of having more women in senior positions at airlines; and how to restore public confidence in safety with the recent accidents involving the Boeing 737 Max.

On the Boeing issue, Cho declined to offer the Korean Air view, as it is an industry-wide issue, during a press briefing held Sunday after the opening ceremony.

During the Sunday meeting, IATA downgraded its 2019 outlook for the global air transport industry to a $28 billion profit from $35.5 billion forecast in December last year.

“The business environment for airlines has deteriorated, with rising fuel prices and a substantial weakening of world trade,” IATA said in statement.

According to IATA, overall costs are expected to rise by 7.4 percent this year, outpacing a 6.5-percent rise in revenues, squeezing net margins of the industry to 3.2 percent from 3.7 percent last year.

BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]
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