Breaking Travel News
IATA Annual General Meeting arrives in Dubai for 80th anniversary showcase
JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai – Business Bay will welcome the IATA AGM this week

IATA Annual General Meeting arrives in Dubai for 80th anniversary showcase

Fast-growing tourism destination, Dubai, is set to welcome the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Annual General Meeting (AGM) this week, as the aviation industry comes together for its annual showcase.

The event, considered the largest of its kind in the world, will take place at the award-winning JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai – Business Bay, considered the United Arab Emirates’ Leading Hotel by the World Travel Awards.

The 80th hosting of the IATA AGM will take place alongside the World Air Transport Summit, with both coming together as the airline industry’s most authoritative event.

In the last edition some 1,500 people participated, including IATA’s member airlines, IATA AGM-level Strategic Partners, international and regional associations, leading manufacturers, industry suppliers and media.

At the AGM, airline leaders take decisions to formalize industry positions and set IATA’s strategic agenda.

The World Air Transport Summit follows with airline leaders and top experts looking in-depth at critical industry issues.

This event is by invitation only.

Emirates has been selected as host airline for the 2024 IATA AGM

The organisational meeting of IATA was held in Havana, Cuba in April of 1945 and IATA formally came into being that month.

Later that year, in October, the first Annual General Meeting of IATA was held in Montreal.

At that time, there were 57 members from 31 countries, while, today, IATA represents some 330 members from all over the world.

The 55th AGM, in Rio de Janeiro in 1999, marked the first formal use of World Air Transport Summit, in recognition of the status of the IATA AGM as the premier, industry-wide platform for the debate of critical issues at the highest level.

More recently, the IATA membership has grown to nearly 300 airlines.

To better serve its members, IATA consolidated the operations of its financial systems in four hubs - Beijing, Singapore, Madrid and Montreal.

This laid the foundation for the establishment of a broader customer service function to support the association’s various commercial offerings.

In April 2021 Alexandre de Juniac handed over the leadership of IATA to Willie Walsh, bequeathing him a leaner, focused organization dedicated to enabling a strong restart of the global aviation system to once again be “the business of freedom”.

Find out more about the history of IATA here.

So, what’s on the agenda as aviation leaders gather in Dubai from June 2-4 this year?

The event is being held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the first time and is hosted by Emirates – considered the World’s Leading Airline to the Middle East and World’s Leading Airline Brand by voters at the World Travel Awards.

Over 1,500 participants are expected to be in attendance, including industry leaders, government officials and media.

Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri, minister of economy for the United Arab Emirates is expected to welcome delegates to Dubai with an opening keynote speech to the AGM.

“Dubai’s world-leading connectivity places it at the crossroads of the planet.

“And it will be the centre of the airline industry’s leadership as it hosts the 80th IATA Annual General Meeting and World Air Transport Summit,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

“We look forward to hosting our industry colleagues in Dubai, Emirates’ home and hub.

“This is a city that has forged its place in global aviation and prospered, thanks to its visionary leaders and progressive policies that recognise air transport’s role as a key economic enabler.

“In line with this, last year aviation contributed 27 per cent to Dubai’s GDP and supported $37 billion in gross value added.”

The World Air Transport Summit (WATS) immediately follows the AGM for a comprehensive program addressing the critical issues facing aviation.

“The commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 will top the agenda of the 80th IATA AGM and World Air Transport Summit.

“We will explore solutions to accelerate progress, particularly with the production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and the potential for carbon removals.

“We’ll also take stock of our progress on safety, financial sustainability, and other key industry topics.

“It’s important that we put these challenges on the table so that all stakeholders, including governments, have a clear understanding of what airlines need to connect people and economies safely, efficiently, and ever more sustainably,” said Walsh.

The popular CEO Insights Panel moderated by CNN’s Richard Quest will feature:

  • Vanessa Hudson, Group CEO and Managing Director, Qantas
  • Sir Tim Clark, President of Emirates Airline
  • Scott Kirby, CEO of United Airlines
  • Shai Weiss, CEO of Virgin Atlantic Airways.

“There are always exciting new developments in Dubai, and I hope visiting delegates will get to a chance to experience this buzzing city and the UAE’s renowned hospitality for themselves,” said Tim Clark, president of Emirates Airline.

Key topics to be addressed in the WATS include a ‘Big Picture’ view of challenges facing the airline industry with changing energy markets, an increasingly complex global geopolitical situation, and shifting supply chains/trade patterns.

Also up for discussion are the potential for AI in aviation, advancing sustainability with SAF and carbon removals, how aviation and tourism can work better together, and the prospects for air cargo.

A program highlight will be the fifth edition of the IATA Diversity and Inclusion Awards.

These awards recognise organisations and individuals who are making a leadership contribution to the 25by2025 initiative to improve the gender balance in aviation.

Former IAG chief executive, Willie Walsh, will lead the IATA AGM in his role as director general

The benefit of global connectivity is a topic that will underpin the entire program.

Globally aviation directly employs three million people and is a key enabling part of the travel and tourism value chain which supports some 320 million jobs and accounts for about ten per cent of all economic activity.

Moreover, air cargo delivers $8.3 trillion of trade annually, some 35 per cent of total trade.

For Dubai, Oxford Economics estimates that aviation contributed 27 per cent to Dubai’s GDP and supported $37 billion in gross value added in 2023.

This is projected to increase to $53 billion dollars in 2030, in line with Dubai’s growth.

Aviation contributes to achieving 15 of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs).

Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chief executive of Emirates Airline, will be a guest of honour at the event

Ahead of the event, IATA released data for April 2024 showing global passenger demand, measured in revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs), was up 11 per cent compared to April 2023.

Total capacity, measured in available seat kilometres (ASK), was up 9.6 per cent year-on-year.

The April load factor was 82.4 per cent (+1.0ppt compared to April 2023).

International demand rose 15.8 per cent compared to April 2023; capacity was up 14.8 per cent year-on-year and the load factor improved to 82.2 per cent (+0.7ppt on April 2023).

Domestic demand rose four per cent compared to April 2023; capacity was up 2.1 per cent year-on-year and the load factor was 82.6 per cent (+1.5ppt compared to April 2023).

“Passenger demand has been growing for 36 consecutive months.

“As we enter the peak northern summer travel season, there is every reason to feel optimistic for a strong summer with airlines offering a wide range of travel options.

“Some 97 per cent of passengers asked in our recent survey said they were satisfied with their last flight.

“Every part of the travel value chain needs to be focused on maintaining that,” said Walsh.

The IATA Passenger Survey also revealed 88 per cent agreement that ‘air travel makes my life better’. 

“That’s an important motivation as our members gather for the IATA Annual General Meeting and World Air Transport Summit in Dubai.

“This strong endorsement of the power of air connectivity to transform lives and boost economies brings with it a challenge that will also be on the minds of all attending.

“It is critically important that we achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 so that people can continue to rely on all the benefits of air travel,” said Walsh.

World Travel Awards recently unveiled its Middle East winners in Dubai

World Travel Awards

Also in Dubai recently, the World Travel Awards honoured the leading airlines from the Middle East, many of whom will attend the IATA AGM.

Winners included Qatar Airways, which claimed the coveted title of Middle East’s Leading Airline, while Etihad Airways took

Middle East’s Leading Airline - Customer Experience, Middle East’s Leading Cabin Crew and Middle East’s Leading Airline – Economy Class.

Dubai was named Middle East’s Leading Destination.

Graham Cooke, founder, World Travel Awards, said: “Our winners represent the very best of the Middle East’s travel and tourism sector and my congratulations to each of them.

“They are all playing starring roles in leading the region to even greater heights.”

More Information

More on the IATA AGM can be found on the official website, with the AGM 2024 Programme and AGM 2024 Speakers on offer.

Take a look at all the Breaking Travel News coverage from the event in Dubai here.