During the 2021-2022 APEX/IFSA Board of Governors discussion, which took place on stage in front of an audience for the first time, those in attendance either in person or via video link voted to accept or reject four possible initiatives to introduce in the coming year. All four initiatives concerning vaccinations, health safety, sustainability and unruly passengers were unanimously accepted.
The four initiatives voted on by the APEX/IFSA Board of Governors included the “APEX/IFSA vaccinated airline initiative,” which focuses on airlines vaccinating their workforce to the fullest extent possible as long as COVID-19 remains a threat to global air travel.
The second was the “APEX/IFSA disruptive passenger data-sharing initiative,” under which airlines will work to share disruptive passenger data lists with one another in accordance with the law. The idea is that the information would enable each one to independently determine the best course of protective action for their passengers and crew.
The penultimate initiative to be discussed was the “APEX Health Safety Requirement For Four-Star, Five-Star Airlines,” which would see existing Four Star and Five Star airlines under the APEX Official Airline Ratings™ program have to make their health safety protocols easily available to the public to qualify for future awards.
Finally, the Board of Governors also voted on the introduction of an “APEX Sustainability Requirement For Four-Star, Five-Star Airlines,” which would require existing Four Star and Five Star airlines under the APEX Official Airline Ratings™ program to make their sustainability initiatives easily accessible to the public to qualify for future awards. As part of this initiative, these airlines would also have to commit to making incremental improvements to their sustainability efforts each year.
Onstage were Scott Kirby, United Airlines CEO and the 2021-2022 Chairman of the APEX/IFSA Board of Governors; İlker Aycı, Group CEO & Chairman at Turkish Airlines; Jeffrey Goh, CEO at Star Alliance; Captain Ibrahim Koshy, CEO at Saudia; and Alex Wilcox, CEO at JSX.
Those joining remotely included Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian, Chairman Emeritus of the APEX/IFSA Board of Governors from 2019-2021; Yuji Akasaka, President at Japan Airlines; Jóhanna á Bergi, CEO at Atlantic Airways; Xiamen Airlines Chairman Zhao Dong; and EVP and incoming CEO at Southwest Airlines Bob Jordan.
Regarding vaccinations, Kirby said aviation has always had higher standards of safety than any other industry, and that it should double-down on that coming out of COVID-19. “Omicron is showing us that vaccines are the only way out of this,” he added.
In terms of data-sharing on unruly passengers, Akasaka caveated his support for the initiative by asking that there’s a clear definition of what a disruptive passenger is and that the information-sharing process adheres to data privacy laws in different countries. Christie said that Spirit Airlines has already been working with the US government and with its unions on the creation of a template or a platform that could be used to enable this across the airline industry. Aycı said he believed that sharing this information would help encourage a smoother recovery for airlines from the pandemic.
On sustainability, Bastian explained, “At Delta, we’re fond of saying that we don’t want our customers to choose between seeing the world and saving the world. We need to be able to do both.” Kirby commented, “At COP26, I heard all too frequently that people should fly less. Nothing could be further from the truth. As a result of COVID-19, the world is a much more dangerous place, because we communicate less and we understand each other less than before. Airlines have a noble mission to connect the world, but of course we need to do it in a sustainable way.”
Click here to watch a video of the 2020/2021 APEX/IFSA Board of Governors meeting, which took place during FTE APEX Virtual Expo and saw airline leaders decide to prioritize health safety and sustainability.