The IATA Board of Governors, at a special meeting held on 20 March, unanimously approved the appointment of Giovanni Bisignani as its new Director General and Chief Executive Officer.
Mr Bisignani will join IATA on 13 May, 2002 as Director General-designate. He will officially take over from the incumbent, Pierre Jeanniot, immediately after the IATA Annual General Meeting to be held June 3-4 in Shanghai, China - subject to the approval of that Meeting.
For the past 15 months, Mr. Bisignani has served as President & CEO of Opodo, the airline-owned leading online travel portal in Europe. He has provided highly focused and inspired leadership, taking Opodo from concept to reality - resulting in highly successful market launches in Germany, the UK and, in April, France.
A graduate in Law from Rome University and from the ITP Program Harvard Business School, Mr Bisignani brings 34 years of diverse professional experience to the leadership of the premier airline industry association. He is uniquely qualified to assume the role, having served as Managing Director & CEO of Alitalia, President of Tirrenia di Navigazione, CEO of SM Logistics (a GE Joint venture) and, most recently, CEO of Opodo.
“We are delighted that Giovanni will be our next Director General. He is a true global citizen with proven experience working seamlessly across borders. Giovanni is no stranger to IATA, having served on its Executive Committee while serving as Alitalia CEO. He has also been Chairman of Galileo International and the Association of European Airlines and is highly skilled at leading across multiple constituencies. He has the total support of the international airline industry” declared Leo Mullin, immediate past Chairman of IATA and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Delta Air Lines.
Current Director General Pierre Jeanniot welcomed the appointment and expressed his total confidence in IATA`s ability to meet the many challenges facing the industry, under Mr. Bisignani`s leadership.
Mr. Bisignani`s appointment follows the more than nine years of outstanding and steadfast leadership of IATA provided by Pierre Jeanniot. Appointed in January 1993, Mr Jeanniot led the transformation of IATA from an industry association to a broad-based provider of value-added services to the international airline industry. The IATA Board of Governors unanimously granted Pierre Jeanniot the honorary title of Director General Emeritus of IATA.
“The international airline industry could have asked for no better ambassador over the past decade than Pierre Jeanniot. He has brought our industry together in good times and bad. We wish Pierre the best as he enjoys a well-deserved retirement. He can look back with pride on the tremendous legacy he has left at IATA”, said Xabier de Irala, IATA`s Chairman.
Giovanni Bisignani said, “I am deeply honoured to have been asked to join IATA at such a key time. Having been in the travel industry for nearly 20 years I have watched the pivotal and influential role that IATA plays within international aviation and the travel sector in general. Pierre Jeanniot has done an incredible job in transforming the organisation and I shall build on the infrastructure he has put in place.”
“As the aviation industry develops, accommodating new technology and increased competition, so the market place is changing” he added, “I look forward to leading IATA through these changing times and to supporting a vibrant and thriving airline industry.”