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Well, the time has come. It’s official, Tony Tyler is now the man at the top. (Or rather, in the protracted way that has come to characterise IATA’s dealings, he will be from July).

It won’t be a moment too soon for the airline industry, the cargo business – and IATA employees. 
An employee whistle-blowing website (which makes rather good reading) sums up the problems at IATA. And they stem right from the top. The words “fear” and “dictatorial” are prevalent. Bisignani’s CEO rating is a stunning 0%. Most reviews target Bisignani and Guido Gianasso, head of human capital.
I was especially shocked by how unfairly employees were treated,” wrote one employee, who said that 2008 to 2010 were the worst times. “I hope the Italian era is soon over and that IATA will have a fair and respectful management culture in place.” One employee in Montreal estimated that staff turnover was as high as 80% in the past five years.
Another said: “Executive management manages by fear and threat. Staff live in fear of their jobs. Every last friday of the month could be your last one. Embrace the arrival of a new boss as a new era. Remove the fear culture (and those that promote it).”
But IATA hasn’t only been failing its staff (and, reportedly, with very dubious employment practices), but it has been failing its members. The ones that pay. The ones it purports to support and represent.
“This year’s budget, quick fixes and quick gains are all that counts. The result is that no decision is ever thought through, long-term investments are never made (not because of current economical times, but during the last 10 years) and most things then have to be done manually. After all, why automate if you can force people to do overtime and fire them if they don’t? One boss said openly he was not interested in long-term issues, simply quick wins to look good and too bad about the consequences.”
For a non-profit organisation, (which is, apparently, a stick used to whip employees asking for fair compensation) it has, as we all know, a heavy focus on sales.
“IATA pushes their products, services and consultancy on the industry and their staff have to meet sales targets. If the air transport industry is losing so much money, they won’t have any money to spend with IATA. Shouldn’t they be helping their member airlines get into better shape?”
Another claims that IATA rarely takes responsibility for management errors “such as wrong decisions, cutting essential staff and resulting problems in managing day-to-day activities, lack of knowledge transfer due to staff cuts, and it reflects all problems back on those that have not been able to influence the decisions, or that had voiced them but had not been listened to. This leads to high insecurity, fear of taking necessary decisions and fear of reporting problems higher up.”
The list goes on. “An egocentric company, driven by incompetent lunatics.” “Control-freak management.” “A political working environment with a large number of inflated and fragile egos” “A general culture of fear.” “The organization right now is full of bad apples and unfortunately they sit at the top.”

Wouldn’t you be ashamed if this was your company? Well, for the airlines among you, it is. It’s your organisation.
“Management is not at the right place. Current management would be good in politics of autocratic countries, the army or any structure where power and absolute authority are an asset. This is certainly not the case for a business management position. Most of the competent management have been laid off due to “non-obedience” or the impossibility of reaching exorbitant targets year after year.”
Tony Tyler has a lot of work do to. Because IATA should be something the airline industry can be proud of. Instead, it has failed its members (and is even failing non-members – one of the few growth areas in aviation, the low cost industry, has failed to find any relevance or benefits in joining IATA).
“It is sad to see what IATA has become over the last few years,” wrote one employee. “A dictatorship without hope for anyone to be treated fairly.”
But there is advice for Tony Tyler, which, if these reports are fair and accurate, seems like a good start. “Tony, get rid of the old guard in Montreal and Geneva, and identify competent managers with real leadership and team spirit.”

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