By Jose Ricardo Botelho*

Welcome to Colombia! To the beautiful land of CHARM, where DISNEY recently transported us with such enthusiasm. It is a great pleasure to welcome you to the oldest and largest technical meeting of Latin American and Caribbean aviation, with almost 60 years of history: the ALTA CCMA & MRO Conference. A new opportunity to meet friends, do business, share good practices and, above all, demonstrate once again that this industry is alive, that it is transforming and looking for solutions to each crisis it faces. Truly, the event that is at the heart of this magnificent industry and when, during the most difficult times of 2020 and 2021, airlines and suppliers supported each other, walking hand in hand to keep it afloat. Thanks to you who supported us from the beginning. If we are here today, we want to give special thanks to you who walked with us to carry out the ALTA CCMA&MRO in 2020 and 2021. This event is more than just a commercial conference. For ALTA, it’s time to unite families and friends.

The pandemic demonstrated the profound economic and social consequences of the absence of aviation and connectivity. Without aviation, vaccines cannot be delivered, life is not transported, development is not generated. We know that where aviation goes, it brings advancement. Each direct job in this sector can generate between 14 and 18 additional indirect and induced jobs in our region. And that, my friends, is the result of the work of each and every one of you present here today.

Perhaps those who have small children, and even some who do not, have seen ENCANTO, the Oscar-winning Disney film set in Colombia, several times and know the song “we do not talk about Bruno” well. The uncertainty, the fear, the ignorance that many of us have felt in recent years was perhaps a Bruno that we did not want to talk about. But our leaders, our colleagues and the entire industry took unprecedented measures to quickly reinvent themselves for a resumption that was guaranteed, despite not knowing when or how.

When many countries closed their skies, all of you kept pushing to take off again. In 2020, when all security protocols were established, ALTA held the only face-to-face event in the entire American continent. Thanks to you, who believed in our work, to the Purchasing and Maintenance committees, to our Executive Committee and to the SSC (SUPPLIER STEERING COMMITTEE) who always supported the realization of the ALTA CCMA & MRO 2020. Without your support we would not be here again so thank you!

But let’s talk about present and future. After many battles and countless meetings, the region is already beginning to respond to ALTA requests. With convincing, articulated and team work, often done in silence, we managed to change several laws and regulations in several countries, such as the historic change in Brazil to allow the use of JETA. And that battle extends to Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica where we believe that we will soon achieve the same changes. We met with all the governments of the region showing the impacts caused by extreme measures, often unnecessarily, since the vast majority of the population was vaccinated. With this we created positive and collaborative agendas with the authorities; We take good examples, such as those of Mexico, Brazil, Colombia that kept their skies open and today we see a recovery closer to 2019 and even higher.

In this time of uncertainty, ALTA has also changed many things to adjust to the new context and better serve its members. Proof of this is the incorporation of more than 30 new members and partners in the last 2 years. We changed to be closer to this industry. We adjusted our “flight plan”, we optimized costs, we became a 100% home office association and the first association to move administrative processes to Block Chain. We are an organization that seeks to standardize charging systems in the countries, that offered to help governments in the design of public policies related to SAF and that approved a specific resolution to support environmental measures, among many others. We always seek to lead by example: all ALTA pins are made with recycled material, because we want to protect future generations.

In this new work model we have managed to increase travel and direct contact with our members, but this time outside the air-conditioned rooms and visiting many of them in their field of work. With that, we get to know, in the place where you are, what problem you face; which other member could help you; what is your real need. A work carried out with transparency and that everyone can follow through our social networks. The list is long, there are already more than 140 members and Partners, but rest assured that you will receive our visit very soon. We will go to each and every one of you.

As the team that we are, we invite you to wear the ALTA shirt of your association to us because we want active members, participating in everything and contributing with everyone. We are here to serve you.

The energy of those who participated in yesterday’s sports agenda was fantastic. The team spirit, camaraderie, focus and professionalism were evident. Your participation in our committees and campaigns shows a similar spirit. After all, each one of them, be it technical purchasing, maintenance, security, environment, legal, technology (which is still in the making), fraud, each one was designed with an industry need in mind.

For 2022 we expect a recovery, compared to 2019 levels of 80% and for 2023 of 95%. It is an effort by all and we are on the right path.

Let’s look to the future from the present, make the most of these days and carry out a “proactive” working agenda that will bring benefits to all.

Cartagena receives with the ALTA CCMA & MRO Conference around 120 airline representatives and 425 suppliers, 38 table tops, 9 booths, hundreds of mini meetings. All that is already a record! In addition, we have the largest digital screen ever seen at an aviation event. All these is for you.

Thanks to the 41 companies that, with their sponsorships, make this event possible, including the delegation of French companies, which is participating for the first time. You, along with the support of all our members, make this humanly possible. Yes, humanly, because nothing can replace the hug of a friend you have not seen for a long time; a pleasant chat, a smile, a great family like the one we see here.

Welcome aboard a new ALTA CCMA & MRO!

Welcome to Cartagena, a beautiful city that we have chosen as the venue for this year! And thank you for being with us again and trusting in our work. It’s time to participate, share, talk, take photos and share them on social media, be it Instagram, LinkedIn, tweeter. It is time to say that this engine works and is ready to conquer the skies again.

(*) Jose Ricardo Botelho is the Executive Director and CEO of the Latin American and Caribbean Air Transport Association (ALTA). Graduated in Law from the Catholic University of Salvador and with postgraduate studies at the Jorge Amado University and the National Police Academy of Brazil, he previously held other important positions as Head of Brazil’s National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) and as the Brazilian Alternate Chief Diplomatic Delegate at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).