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Dear Des,
So is it feeling different yet? Two days walking the corridors of power in Geneva without the shadow of Bisignani at your back? It’s not been long, but hopefully the benign winds of Tony Tyler will help push through much-needed change at an organisation in crisis.
For those of us struggling to report on IATA’s activities, we can only hope that a new era of honesty and transparency is dawning. An era of communication and understanding between all sectors of the business which will help propel it to where it should be – creating a sustainable, profitable, integrated and well-regarded industry, as opposed to the outdated, inefficient pariah it has become in the minds of some.
We are now four months post-Istanbul’s WCS, and for most of those IATA has been effectively out of bounds to the press. So where have we got to in regards to strengthening the image of the industry? 
Bisignani was nothing if not outspoken. But nobody has defended cargo, lobbied on behalf of cargo, put straight the mainstream media on issues surrounding the air freighting of goods. 
So let’s work together – if we are now able – to get one of the many human interest cargo stories out there.
There are some great examples of proactive thinking from other industry groups. The European Regions’ Airline Association are masters of the art (see their e.coli press release). An environmental blog recently on The Loadstar was immediately picked up by the Air Transport Action Group, quick to correct and constructively defend. These are the sort of actions we should be seeing from IATA too. (Instead, perhaps, of the rather peculiar passive-aggressive behaviour currently being meted out.)
In terms of transparency, IATA Cargo could start with regular industry/ press progress reports on how it is doing with achieving its year’s goals. (Sadly, few of us in publishing have much of a budget to come to meetings – but with a travel budget of $18 million a year, perhaps IATA could visit us individually). But closed-door meetings at the WCS could also be opened up to all attendees.
And what about the Cargo Committee meetings? Not only could the press learn from them, becoming more knowledgeable and thus more of a benefit to the industry, but we can help publicise the good – or not – that IATA is doing. 
It also transpires that this industry is brimming with ideas – but which are sometimes struggling to find an outlet. “Why is it always the CEOs who get to voice their opinions and make industry decisions?” asks one contact. “What IATA needs is a cargo committee made up of younger people from across the industry – the people who actually run the freight business on a day-to-day basis. A committee which is deliberately voicing the opinions of those coming up through the ranks.”
Michael Steen responds that the industry has many committees which hear from less senior people – and given the number of committees there are, that would seem likely. But the perception, at least, is that IATA’s Cargo division is run solely by those at the very top. Perhaps that’s something easily fixed, and something that would help support industry sustainability – and IATA –  in the longer term.
A wise man once said: “Be fair. Des can’t act yet. Until July his hands are tied. Then give him one year. If nothing has changed, then give him a hard time.”
Well, the clock is now ticking. But there’s another major difference between March and now – the industry, particularly after the brutal Singapore meeting, understands better the problems IATA was labouring under. There’s a new feeling of support for Tyler, as opposed to irritation. And the support for you, Des, has always been there. But things have to change soon.
Tick tock, tick tock.
Yours truly,
The Loadstar

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  • FreightPro

    July 05, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    Hi Alex

    Your comment as usual is direct, honest and to the point & whilst I do not know Des on a personal basis I have admired his career and his contributions to air cargo for many years.

    Rome was not built in a day, or two, lets give him a chance he is rolling a dung heap uphill and the communities support will help us all get there.

    Steve Hocking