The Hellenic Aviation Society hosted an insightful executive webinar regarding the restart of air travel, as well as the economy, after the COVID-19 pandemic era. The event was under the auspices of Hermes Air Transport Organisation and the guest speakers represented some of the most significant stakeholders of the air transport and tourism sector. In particular, the following executives participated in the webinar:
- Dr. Kostas Iatrou, Director General of Hermes Air Transport Organisation, Honorary Member of the Hellenic Aviation Society
- Salvatore Sciacchitano, President of ICAO Council
- Jeff Poole, President of Hermes Air Transport Organisation and Senior Vice President of World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC)
- Henrik Hololei, Director General for Mobility and Transport at European Commission
- Luis Felipe De Oliveira, Director General of ACI
- Abdul Wahab Teffaha, Secretary General of AACO
- Eamonn Brennan, Director General of EUROCONTROL
- Dr. Yiannis Paraschis, CEO of Athens International Airport
- Prof. Dr. Andreas Papatheodorou, President of Hellenic Aviation Society, Professor and Director at University of the Aegean
In his welcome note, Dr Kostas Iatrou focused on the need for the aviation sector to navigate uncharted waters in a safe yet innovative manner. In his keynote address, Salvatore Sciacchitano who was presented with the prestigious Hellenic Aviation Society Keramianakis Award by Prof Dr Andreas Papatheodorou, highlighted the strong impact of COVID-19 on air travel and tourism by pointing out the liquidity issues as well as, the job losses, during the pandemic. He presented the main strategy of ICAO to face the challenges and his recommendations on which will be the main pillars for a viable future for the air transport sector. The standardisation of health protocols, vaccine certifications and sustainable future addressed as the most important of them.
Jeff Poole referred to the devastating impact of COVID-19 and the need to ensure speedy recovery by removing barriers to travel such as unnecessary quarantines and by rebuilding traveler confidence. Next, both Henrik Hololei and Eamonn Brennan highlighted the difficulty of the upcoming months for airlines and their necessity the summer season to be rescued. Henrik Hololei identified the importance for cooperation between governments as well as that government support is essential for the airlines to survive during the pandemic. On the other hand, Eamonn Brennan expressed his concerns over the remained existence of connectivity between regional airports and the future of long-haul travel.
On the airport sector, Luis Felipe De Oliveira emphasised on the cooperation on a holistic scale in order to face the challenges. He pointed out that ACI constantly supports all member airports, by providing financial support and needed guidelines. However, Abdul Wahab Teffaha raised certain concerns over the lack of a common strategy, in a global scale, and the political interference on the decision making process. Also, he mentioned that airports and airlines need to invest on technology for a more sustainable future.
Dr. Yiannis Paraschis talked about the strong impact of vaccinations, on the air travel procedure as well as that planning for the medium and long-term requires resources and strong support by the governments. At the same time, Prof. Dr. Andreas Papatheodorou discussed the impact of the COVID19 pandemic on the air transport and tourism nexus in Greece and highlighted the importance of tourism for the Greek economy.
As a final note, all executives addressed to the future of the industry and the “New Normal”. They all agreed that in the future health protocols will be a part of the travel procedure, however there is no need for more regulations. Moreover, the future of the aviation industry lies on embracement of sustainability strategies, as well as the leverage of the digital transformation, and the establishment of synergies at a global level.
The executive webinar was very thoughtfully moderated by Jeff Poole who played a key role in instigating discussion and making the webinar truly interactive by asking questions that were directly relevant to the panellists’ area of expertise.
ATN was the media partner.