Airline Industry Leadership Keynote Interview: Director General IATA Willie Walsh


John Strickland
JLS Consulting

John Strickland has 38 years of experience in the air transport industry, embracing all the major airline business models and holding senior positions with airlines including British Airways and KLMuk. He was instrumental in the decision by KLM to establish the low cost airline Buzz and in defining its network strategy. He founded JLS Consulting in 2003 to provide strategic advisory services for the air transport industry. Working internationally at Board Level, clients include airports, airlines, investors and other industry partners, who benefit from his expertise and excellent personal network. John is a leading commentator on the airline sector for media worldwide, providing informed business and financial analysis for the news agenda. He is seen regularly on channels including the BBC, Bloomberg and CNN.

Willie Walsh
Director General, IATA

Willie Walsh became the eighth person to lead the International Air Transport Association (IATA) when he took on the role of Director General on 1 April 2021, after an airline industry career spanning over 40 years. Walsh is deeply familiar with IATA, having served on the IATA Board of Governors for almost 13 years between 2005 to 2018, including serving as Chair (2016-2017). Born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1961, Walsh joined the country’s flag carrier Aer Lingus in 1979, as a cadet pilot, becoming a captain in 1990. One year earlier, he had moved into a management position in the airline’s flight operations department, beginning a rise that led to his being appointed chief executive of Futura, Aer Lingus’ Spanish charter airline in 1998.

He returned to Aer Lingus in 2000 as COO and was appointed chief executive in October 2001 at a time when the carrier was in a grave financial crisis following the 9.11 attacks. Walsh led a radical restructuring that returned Aer Lingus to profitability.

In 2005, Walsh was appointed chief executive of British Airways (BA). He led BA through the 2008/09 Global Financial Crisis, established a transatlantic joint business venture with Iberia, Finnair and American Airlines, and oversaw the 2011 merger of BA and Iberia under a newly established parent company, International Airlines Group (IAG). Walsh served as chief executive of IAG from its inception until he retired in September 2020. At IATA Walsh will work from the association’s main offices in Montreal, Canada and Geneva, Switzerland. A citizen of Ireland, Walsh holds a Master of Science and Business Administration from Trinity College, Dublin.

World Travel Market brings the travel industry together through world leading events, content and digital tools, that make it easier for you to find personal and business opportunities and do more effective business.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *