2020 Summer Aviation Forum: “Recovery and the Flightpath to New Aviation”


Source: Hermes

The 2020 Summer Aviation Forum entitled “Recovery and the flightpath to new aviation” was organized by ATN – Air Transport News in association with Hermes – Air Transport Organisation, with Aegean Airlines being the Official Air Carrier Sponsor and easy power the Sponsor. It was held in Ekali, Greece on Friday 28 August.  The Forum is the new initiative of ATN and it is at the same time the first major air industry event, since the start of COVID-19 pandemic, with the physical presence of the participants.

Major leaders of the industry participated and addressed the Forum, Salvatore Sciacchitano, President of the ICAO Council, Luis Felipe de Oliveira, Director General, ACI and Henrik Hololei, Director-General for Mobility and Transport, European Commission.

The two panels boasted a wide global representation of leaders of the air transport chain moderated by Eamonn Brennan, Director General, EUROCONTROL and Professor Andreas Papatheodorou, University of Aegean

David Ciceo, CEO, Cluj Airport & President, Romanian Airports Association

Abderahmane Berthe, Secretary General, AFRAA

Pieter Elbers, President & CEO, KLM

Ioanna Papadopoulou, Director, Communications & Marketing, Athens International Airport

Rafael Echevarne, Director General ACI-LAC

Ilias Maragakis, COO, Fraport Greece

Andre Schneider, CEO, Geneva Airport

Tassos Raftopoulos, Director Alliances & Aeropolitical Affairs, Aegean Airlines

Stressing that we are living through an important turning point for aviation today, the President of Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Mr. Salvatore Sciacchitano, told the aviation leaders attending the Forum that innovation and continued partnership will be critical to aviation’s greener and more sustainable recovery from COVID-19.

“COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on local and global air connectivity, and on the many countries and operators who made that connectivity possible,” Mr. Sciacchitano commented. “It has also tragically impacted the lives of the hundreds of millions of economically vulnerable men and women around the world, many of whom depend on aviation and tourism for their very livelihoods.”

Jeff Poole, President of Hermes – Air Transport Organisation & VP Advocacy WTTC and Chair of the Forum concluded by thanking the participants  for their personal investment and commitment to the 2020 Summer Aviation Forum and proceeded to summarize the Forum’s main points. He pointed out that although the industry and the industry leaders are good at articulating the problem – as there has been good exposure and analysis from the key note speakers and the panelists on their own experiences and their feelings – expressing what they would like to see in the industry, no specific solutions were proposed.. He stressed that the industry has been devastated and said that although last year the global travel and tourism industry provided over 300 million jobs globally, according to WTCC research, almost 200 million jobs could be lost unless something changes very quickly. He detected that there is still optimism amongst everyone present that a “new normal” will be achieved even if it will take some time. He also sensed a lot of frustration for things that are beyond the industry’s control. Although the industry has achieved a lot by putting in place quite quickly new COVID-19 related processes and procedures,  proving once more  its agility, more international cooperation between governments is needed urgently.There needs to be consistency of criteria, measurements and measures. At present each government has different set of rules which, for example, cabin staff need to know and apply. All the different announcements on new restrictions, new travel bans, new quarantine procedures, etc have a damaging effect. The travel experience is confusing and poor but it is fundamental to rebuild traveller confidence. It is up to the governments to put in place international frameworks that would allow the industry to have consistency of processing and testing as people move and travel around the world.

He continued to say the very purpose of the Forum is to do something to change this. The very clear suggestion that came out of the Forum is that the industry should communicate more actively to travellers and governments of everything that has been done and that aviation is safe in the COVID-19 context. It is a compelling fact that no-one has caught COVID-19 through international travel and this has to counter the previous accusations that aviation was part of spreading COVID-19 around the world. The real problem for the industry is the complete and utter lack of leadership and cooperation within and between governments at the international level.  WTTC has been challenging individual governments and governments collectively on that issue: “Are health ministers running aviation now?”, “Who is running the world today in the COVID-19 era?”.

In conclusion, the industry needs to be even more proactive in its messages and  advocacy but it also needs to find its champion, a way of instilling leadership and backing to governments and that is a big challenge. Governments need a real sense of urgency to cooperate internationally on new global frameworks, standards and processes.