The 2020/2021 virtual APEX/IFSA Board of Governors meeting, which took place during FTE APEX Virtual Expo, saw airline leaders decide on health safety and sustainability as the associations’ two top priorities for this year.
During the most recent APEX/IFSA Board of Governors meeting, each airline in attendance was allowed to select two topics they believed should become the focus of both associations for 2021. Their choices were taken from a predefined list of ten topics, including artificial intelligence, augmented reality, biometrics, connectivity, driving change, health safety, personalization, seamless payment, seating comfort and sustainability.
The meeting was chaired by Delta Air Lines’ CEO Ed Bastian alongside APEX/IFSA CEO Dr. Joe Leader and APEX/IFSA Executive Director Lauren Costello from Delta’s headquarters in Atlanta.
Also in attendance were Turkish Airlines Chairman and Group CEO M. Ilker Ayci; Atlantic Airways CEO Jóhanna á Bergi, Spirit Airlines President and CEO Ted Christie; Aeromexico CEO Andrés Conesa; Xiamen Airlines Chairman Zhao Dong; Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Tewolde GebreMariam; RwandAir CEO Yvonne Makolo; Air Canada President and CEO Michael Rousseau; JetSuite and JSX Co-Founder and CEO Alex Wilcox; and United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby. Lauren Costello was authorized to announce the votes put forward by JetBlue President and COO Joanna Geraghty, who was unable to attend.
Bastian kicked off the voting process, selecting sustainability and health safety as Delta’s top two priorities. He explained, “We won’t have a sustainable business model if we don’t have a sustainable planet.”
This sentiment was echoed by numerous airlines. Wilcox applauded United for its recent aircraft order with Archer, but said, “I think getting these things certified is going to be a lot harder than most people think. And so, with sustainability, I think we need to actually encourage regulators to speed up certification processes so these aircraft can actually take flight.”
On the topic of health safety, Rousseau said, “Retaining a record and reputation for safety are absolutely essential if you want to stay in this business for the long-term. If anything, COVID-19 showed us the consequences when people don’t feel safe – 90% of our traffic disappeared overnight.”
When voting for health safety, Conesa said, “This is something that we should be doing as an industry, since it is an essential part of our job to make passengers feel confident when they fly.”
Health Safety and sustainability were the most voted-for priorities, respectively, something which United Airlines’ CEO Scott Kirby acknowledged as he virtually accepted the role of incoming chair of the APEX/IFSA Board of Governors, taking over from Bastian, who has been in the role since 2019.
Accepting a gavel from Dr. Leader, Kirby said, “While we’re a really competitive industry, there are many things we work together on that make things better for our customers. COVID-19 was one of the perfect examples of that. As an industry, we shared best practices, we talked to each other about health safety initiatives, when there was a lot of uncertainty about the right thing to do.”
“Sustainability is the biggest challenge facing our generation, and it’s up to us to leave a better world behind for our children and our grandchildren. I will be focused on using this platform as an opportunity to try and push all of us to do the best we can on sustainability. And this is another area where I hope we get to a point where we’re not competing, and again are the industry that is seen around the world as the leader on sustainability.”
With thanks to BOTTEGA for sponsoring the closed captioning of the session.