Welcome to the 148th IATA Slot Conference – opening welcome from Sebastian Mikosz
“I am sorry and frustrated that this is the third time that we have had to organise a virtual conference,” comments Sebastian Mikosz, SVP Member & External Relations, IATA. “Like I did for the last conference, I have to repeat again that I am terribly sorry and frustrated that we cannot meet in person.” He then went on to explain two key messages that he had for delegates, starting with optimism: “Firstly, things are improving and there is light at the end of the tunnel. Remember, when we met virtually last year, we still did not have the vaccine and the campaign to get people vaccinated had not even started. As I speak to you today, we have the solution to the pandemic that will allow us to travel as we did before. That is a big reason for optimism.”
While it was pointed out that the situation regarding the vaccine programme rollout is better in some parts of the world than others, Mikosz reiterated with confidence that ‘things are getting there’. He hopes that the 149th IATA Slot Conference, planned to take place in Rome later this year, will be in person.
Message of realism
“While there is light at the end of the tunnel, our industry has been on its knees,” reiterates Mikosz. He pushed the message that the winter season was always a difficult season, even before the pandemic. “The issue we have is that countries which have large amounts of traffic are still closed,” with key markets across Asia and North America being noted as top examples. “For airports, airlines and slot co-ordinators, it is still a demanding and challenging time because we constantly need to change and adapt. It can be emotionally frustrating as we need to change and adapt, and what we have planned always needs to keep changing.” Mikosz highlighted that importantly for the airlines, there needs to be the flexibility to allow them to adapt their networks to the changing situation and be able to offer the best options to passengers.
“I hope that this is the last time that we meet virtually and have to constantly keep adapting to the changing situations. I wish you an excellent conference and good talks, stay safe, and let’s hope we can see everyone in person as soon as is possible,” concluded Mikosz.