The top leadership of the aviation sector from around the world will gather in Doha from Sunday for the International Air Transport Association IATA's 78th Annual General Meeting (AGM) and the World Air Transport Summit (WATS).
The three-day event is being organised by Qatar Airways.
The conference brings together nearly 240 IATA member airlines, and this year's general meeting attracts more than 750 senior aviation industry delegates, and over 150 international media outlets, to discuss the most important topics, issues and global trends related to the aviation sector.
The summit will discuss a number of important themes, including the Ukraine war's impact on the aviation sector, the role of the aviation sector in supporting global efforts to reduce harmful emissions to the environment and helping airlines address challenges posed by carbon offsets, and the regulatory and financial challenges facing global airlines.
This year's AGM will be an important opportunity for aviation industry leaders to reflect on the changing political, economic and technological realities facing air travel as the industry recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic as well as building a much stronger future for the aviation and air transport sector.
In March, IATA announced moving the 78th AGM and WATS from Shanghai, where it would have been hosted by China Eastern Airlines, to Doha.
This will be the second time for Qatar to hold the global meeting of aviation leaders, with the first one held in 2014. The change in venue reflects the ongoing travel-related restrictions to China due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In this regard, director-general of IATA Willie Walsh described the decision as returning to the aviation dynamic hub in Doha and the hospitality for which Qatar is famous, adding that Doha will be transformed into the global capital of air transport as aviation leaders from around the world gather for the 78th IATA AGM and WATS amid recovery from Covid-19.
Qatar Airways is considered as one of the most prominent supporters of IATA and this year's meeting edition is a valuable opportunity to review the extent of improvement and development in Qatar's infrastructure, in preparation for hosting the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
In this regard, Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive HE Akbar al-Baker said the airline is pleased to host the IATA AGM and WATS for the second time. He affirmed that Qatar Airways is a strong supporter of IATA and that this year's AGM is a valuable opportunity to showcase the renowned Qatari hospitality, together with the country's new infrastructural developments as it counts down towards hosting the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. To Page 7
HE al-Baker added that the World Cup 2022 will be the first in the Middle East and Arab world, and described it as the perfect opportunity for the Arab region as a whole to show the rest of the world its efforts and achievements as well as proving that it is ready to host mega events, and welcome visitors and football fans from around the world.
He also said that hosting such global events "demonstrates our readiness to provide a more convenient and flexible travel experience, and to provide the best and seamless travel options to our travelers from all over the world".
The conference is a qualitative and unique annual international event in the civil aviation sector. It constitutes an opportunity to exchange knowledge and ideas and to stand on the best experiences and practices, to keep pace with the rapid developments in the aviation market, as well as being one of the tributaries of achieving national goals in developing resources and capacities.
The conference aims to find solutions that contribute to the prosperity of the civil aviation sector in the coming years, especially as the phase the sector is passing through requires the importance of activating co-operation from all stakeholders to introduce the necessary policies that ensure a promising future for the sector.
During the summit, participants will review the progress made by the aviation sector regarding the sector's determination to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
With high oil prices, war and inflation, the gathering will be an opportunity for airlines to assess the economic challenges ahead of them.
One of the key topics to be discussed during the event is around sustainability, focusing on steps the entire aviation industry will take. It will also cover what the industry can do to support global efforts to reduce 'single-use plastics', address the challenges the sector is facing in terms of carbon offsets and the production of sustainable and lower carbon aviation fuels, in order to deliver lasting and environmentally sound solutions.
The aviation sector considers addressing the Covid-19 pandemic an urgent priority, due to the financial impact it had on the sector. Addressing this is of paramount importance, given the aviation sector's critical role in the economy which sees it connecting people, businesses and commodities on a global scale. The sector is also dealing with the negative repercussions of the war in Ukraine, and the disruptions it made to supply chains and the air cargo sector.
IATA revealed - in a report published at the end of the first quarter of this year - the impact of the repercussions of the war in Ukraine on the air cargo sector, both in the short-term and the-long term, which coincides with the beginning of the civil aviation sectors recovery from the global crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic.
IATA said in its report that it is too early to estimate the short-term consequences of the war in Ukraine on the aviation sector, but it confirmed that the risks are skewing to the downside, especially in markets prone to conflict. The report explained that the influencing factors will be measured according to the geographical scope, the extent of the escalation of battles, the time period of sanctions or limiting access to airspaces, and these effects will be felt in Russia, Ukraine and its neighbouring countries.
IATA pointed out that the Russian market before crisis ranked 11th in terms of air cargo services, including the massive local market, while Ukraine ranked 48th. Fluctuations in energy prices or changing flight paths to avoid Russian airspace are likely to have broader repercussions, and the effects are also likely to affect consumer confidence and economic activity outside Eastern Europe.
IATA's report, released in March, showed a drop in demand for global air cargo markets. The effects of Omicron variant, the Russia-Ukraine war and a challenging operating backdrop contributed to the decline. The war in Ukraine led to a fall in cargo capacity used to serve Europe as several airlines based in Russia and Ukraine were key cargo players. Sanctions against Russia led to disruptions in manufacturing, and rising oil prices are having a negative economic impact, including raising costs for shipping.
New export orders, a leading indicator of air freight demand, shrank in all global markets except the United States.
Air cargo markets mirror global economic developments. In March, the trading environment took a turn for the worse. The combination of war in Ukraine and the spread of the Omicron variant in Asia have led to rising energy costs, exacerbated supply chain disruptions, and fed inflationary pressure. As a result, compared to a year ago, there are fewer goods being shipped, including by air.
The end of war in Ukraine and modification of China's Covid-19 policy contributes to reducing difficulties form which the aviating sector is suffering. It is difficult to anticipate either of the two possibilities in the short term, which makes expectations in the direction of escalating challenges for the air cargo sector in conjunction with the accelerated recovery in passenger markets.