Alaska to swap A320’s for 737MAX, IATA’s new leader is Willie Walsh

Willie Walsh, recently retired head of international Airlines Group, is to replace the former head of the Air France Group, Alexandre de Juniac as CEO of the internationally recognised aviation industry data collection, protection and promotions organisation. It is in effect a sanctioned and powerful aviation industry lobbying group, has legally binding operations and positions in its structure are much sought after.

The organisation is supposed to be non-political, but that is far from the truth. When Taiwan was faced with the International Civil Aviation Authority – a United Nations organisation – blocking it from taking part in ICAO and the World Health Organisation discussions on covid related air travel, IATA did nothing.

Communist China used its presidency of ICAO to block Taiwan and the IATA Regional Vice President, North Asia, Ma Tao, also a communist Chinese made sure IATA too, did nothing. Chinese officials in international organisations continuously use their roles to further the countries foreign policy goals, something western nations are only just starting to appreciate, especially Australia.

IATA is more of a trade lobbying group these days. It was originally established to collate international data on passenger numbers, flights, revenue and policy, makes recommendations and tries to appear neutral. It was actually originated in Canada, under Canadian law in 1945.

As an example of its overall ineptitude, something not uncommon in sprawling and internationally diverse organisations, it didn’t start seriously monitoring cargo and freight in real detail until 2012!

However its guidance these days is often somewhat off the mark, and usually it makes statements that many see as a rather late in the day. It’s only real advantage its its centralised data collection, but there are now a number of agencies, such as CAPA that are often ahead of them, more accurate and analytically valuable.

Someone once told me that waiting for IATA to come up with analysed data that was really useful to the industry in a timely fashion, was like waiting for a London bus; nothing for hours then six at once after everyone had left in a taxi.

Alaska to swap its A320’s for 737 MAX

Alaska Airlines has been ready to make a call on the future of its mixed fleet, a result of the buyout of Virgin America, a brand many miss desperately.

The fact was that either it leased new aircraft – and their was some fondness for the A320’s the airline inherited that seriously made them think for a while, or they revert to type and the 737 which has been the backbone of the airline for years.

Many miss Virgin America

In the end with leases due and deals to be had on the MAX simply not available on the A320, Alaska has chosen to sell ten of its A320 family to ALC in exchange for leasing 13 737-9’s.

The decision means, as expected, the long term end of the Airbus fleet and the return to a more homogenised 737 fleet and, like it or not, a simpler pilot, crew and maintenance profile.