Air Transport World

Missing the bloat. (International Air Transport Association)

IATA membership is up to 201, costs are down and enthusiasm reigns. Now what?

Geneva-IATA Director-General Gunter Eser, who retires in 1992, was brimming with characteristic enthusiasm at the latest AGM. Having signed most major airlines as members, except for Air China, he can legitimately advertise IATA as the world's airline-industry representative. The increase in membership to 201, including Aeroflot, Cathay Pacific, Delta, Korean, Northwest, Thai and Singapore Airlines, marks a reversal of the time when U.S. attacks on IATA had airlines keeping mum about their affiliation, or even dropping out. Indeed, IATA is so pleased with membership numbers that it has withdrawn financial incentives to new carriers.

Neil Gleeson, who retires as managing director next year, has accomplished his mission, too. Bowing to large-carrier demands, he slashed employee and other costs and generally made the Secretariat more sensitive to uses of members' dues. IATA also developed a plethora of new fee-based activities designed to make profits and further protect members from harsh cost hikes.

Unabashed hospitality

Pay-as-you-go and cost-sharing were evident elsewhere at the AGM. The once-banished manufacturers have been increasingly evident at recent AGMS. This year, they were everywhere. At the end of a presentation by Garuda President Moehamad Soeparno, outgoing president of IATA who hosted the AGM's major social event, the names of the 10 suppliers who helped cover the costs were shown on the screen. Next year's (Oct. 28-29) AGM host, Kenya Airways, which recently laid off large numbers of staff to cope with losses, certainly will require similar support. And contrary to previous years, when suppliers' hospitality was accepted if offered discreetly, such suites were advertised heavily and located prominently.

Not that IATA's governing body, the Executive Committee, is completely satisfied yet about cost reduction. When it arrived here, it cut the most recent budget proposal by an additional $1. …

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