Athens, Greece – On Friday 9 July 2021, Hermes – Air Transport Organisation held the “Hermes AGM & Leaders Forum – Resilience and Efficiency Through Leadership and Cooperation”, hosting prominent leaders of the global aviation industry.
The event began with a warm welcome of the Director General of the Hermes – Air Transport Organisation, Dr. Kostas Iatrou, who summarised the organisation’s recent hosting of major online executive aviation events. Next, Angela Gittens, 2021 Recommendation Committee Member and Board Member of Hermes, set the scene for the forum by pointing out the major challenges that the COVID-19 crisis has brought to the aviation industry as well as the necessary steps towards its recovery. Jeff Poole, President of Hermes – Air Transport Organisation, introduced the values and priorities of the organisation as well as the great challenges and opportunities, which the air transport sector now faces globally. Luis Felipe de Oliveira, Director General of ACI & Hermes VP and Treasurer, addressed the severe impact of the COVID-19 crisis on airlines and airports. He focused on the necessary strategies for the recovery of the industry as well as the new standards that the industry needs to set for its viability and sustainability.
His Excellency Harry Theoharis, Greek Minister of Tourism, presented a holistic approach to the impact of COVID-19 on the tourism industry as well as the role of and measures taken by the Greek Government for the protection of the country’s tourism sector. He highlighted the role of the EU regarding the establishment of protocols and also the strategies which need to be followed for a safe and secure return of global travel and tourism.
At the event, Hermes – Air Transport Organisation, signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with the University of the Aegean and a Memorandum of Understanding with Airlines for America (A4A).
Professor Andreas Papatheodorou, President of the Hellenic Aviation Society and Member of Hermes – Air Transport Organisation moderated a two-part round table discussion with the participation of:
- Henrik Hololei, Director-General-DG MOVE, European Commission & Hermes Board Member
- Nick Calio, President and CEO of A4A
- Monserrat Barriga, Director General of ERA
- Dr Rafael Echevarne, Director General of ACI LAC
- Jose Ricardo Botelho, Executive Director & CEO of ALTA
The first part of the discussion considered the need for true leadership to ensure quick and effective recovery of the air transport sector. All participants highlighted the importance of the viability of the air transport sector as well as the urgent need for a collaboration between aviation related companies and governments for the establishment of common strategies. Furthermore, sustainability is a critical issue moving forward, requiring a holistic and coordinated approach. On behalf of airlines, Jose Ricardo Botelho, Nick Calio and Monserrat Barriga referred to sustainability as the “licence to operate” and highlighted the strong importance of ensuring effective exploitation and implementation of new and emerging technologies. Dr Rafael Echevarne identified sustainability as a top priority for airports. Henrik Hololei referred to the necessity of making travellers feel safe to travel again as well as the urgency for cooperation between all stakeholders.
In the second part of the discussion, all participants addressed the issue of realising the potential of new business models and stronger collaboration in the recovery of the air transport industry. Henrik Hololei highlighted that air transport is one of the most affected sectors by COVID-19 and should be consider holistically along with others closely related. He presented five main pillars for the recovery of the industry at a European level, i.e., further consolidation, more investment in infrastructure, sustainability, new, smart solutions, and digitalization. Nick Calio spoke about the economic and jobs contribution of airlines, while he identified technology as the way to make travels better. He added that airlines’ prime objective is the construction of a survival plan and now more than ever airlines need to send a unified message to governments. Jose Ricardo Botelho, once again highlighted the necessity of air connectivity for the Latin American Region while he also pointed out that the industry needs to approach the decision makers as well as to influence the international organisations.
Last, Jeff Poole, President of Hermes, provided a summary of the discussions and conclusions of the Leaders Forum.
Subsequently, the Hermes – Air Transport Organisation held its Annual General Meeting. Jeff Poole, President of Hermes, introduced and declared Dr. Fang Liu as Honorary Member. Dr. Kostas Iatrou presented the annual report of Hermes and all of Organisation’s actions during the last year while Luis Felipe de Oliveira presented the financial statements for the fiscal year of 2021. The meeting continued with the election of the new Board of Members, with Eamonn Brennan replacing Robert Deillon. Finally, Dr. Kostas Iatrou and Jeff Poole presented admission certificates to three new members.