19 October 2021

GreenAir News

Reporting on aviation and the environment

IATA upgrades importance of environment with senior appointment and new industry training programme

Acknowledging the importance of sustainability as the sector rebuilds from the Covid-19 pandemic, airline industry body IATA is to add environmental sustainability to its training curriculum. It says a recent survey of 800 industry training professionals identified sustainability as a top training need and has launched the new programme with the University of Geneva (UNIGE). With new Director General Willie Walsh now in place, IATA has elevated the role of sustainability within the organisation by making, for the first time, environment a self-contained IATA division. Former airline boss Sebastian Mikosz has been appointed Senior Vice President for Environment and Sustainability, succeeding Director of Environment Michael Gill, who has joined ICAO. Meanwhile, Colombian Juan Carlos Salazar has started his mandate as Secretary General of ICAO with a pledge to bring reforms to the UN agency.

The IATA-UNIGE Certificate of Advanced Studies in Environmental Sustainability in Aviation consists of six modules:

  • Design a sustainability strategy
  • Environmental management systems in aviation
  • Responsible leadership
  • Sustainable aviation fuels
  • Corporate social responsibility and organisational ethics
  • Carbon markets and aviation

IATA says the modules have been designed to illustrate how both individual actions and overall companies effect sustainability. Participants will learn to identify a set of measures that can be implemented to improve sustainability in the short, medium and long term, and allowing them to discover what ‘leading responsibly’ means at their workplace, as well as how to engage in responsible decision-making and avoid ‘ethical blindness’.

“The aviation workforce is highly skilled as it needs to work to and comply with many global and industry standards. Over the years we have been adapting our training offer to meet the changing requirements of the industry. Hence it should come as no surprise that we are now adding environmental sustainability training to our curriculum,” commented Walsh. “Ensuring that all those working in this industry are given the opportunity to acquire these new skillsets is essential, as we increasingly place more emphasis on making our operations more sustainable, while rebuilding from the effects of the pandemic.”

The social component of the programme will educate and prepare future leaders on responsibility that will contribute to the wellbeing of the aviation industry and society at large, added the trade association.

IATA has been offering training for the industry since 1972 and the curriculum covers more than 350 courses, which are taken by over 100,000 participants per year. It has selected long-standing academic partner UNIGE to create the environmental sustainability course, which is offered as individual modules or a complete package of all six.

The newly created position of Senior Vice President for Environment and Sustainability gives greater prominence to the existential challenge of decarbonising air transport, said IATA. Prior to joining IATA, Mikosz was Group Managing Director and CEO of Kenya Airways, while also on the IATA Board of Governors. He previously served as CEO of LOT Polish Airlines and CEO of Poland’s largest online travel agency, the eSKY Group, following senior roles in industry and investment banking.

“It’s an honour to lead a world-class environment team and as a former airline CEO I am looking forward to working with our members to create a sustainable future,” posted Mikosz on his LinkedIn feed. “There is no doubt we face an existential threat. But we will succeed because this industry has innovation and resilience in its DNA. My thanks to Willie Walsh and the board for their strong support.”

As well as leading IATA’s environment work, Mikosz’s predecessors also served as the Executive Director of the cross-sector Air Transport Action Group (ATAG). An IATA spokesman said a new Executive Director to succeed Michael Gill would be announced at ATAG’s Sustainable Aviation Forum on September 28.

Gill, meanwhile, has been appointed Director, Legal Affairs and External Relations Bureau at ICAO in Montreal. This month has also seen the former Director General of Civil Aviation for Colombia, Juan Carlos Salazar, take up the role of Secretary General of ICAO, succeeding Dr Fang Liu of China.

“It’s important that ICAO remains a key partner for the countries of the world as they work with this agency to recover from the pandemic, to share their skies to their mutual benefit, and to continuously improve the global aviation standards and practices which keep those skies as safe, secure, efficient and sustainable as the world expects,” said Salazar. “I will also work to innovate internally and improve the efficiency by which ICAO performs its important standard-setting role and to assure that it continuously improves in helping governments, industry and civil society advocates to effectively consult, coordinate and achieve consensus together.”

Salazar will be taking part in ICAO’s major environment event of the year, the virtual ‘2021 ICAO Stocktaking on aviation in-sector CO2 emissions reductions’, which takes place August 31 to September 3. Speakers include former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol, IPCC WG1 Co-Chair Valérie Masson-Delmotte, Dutch government minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, IATA’s Willie Walsh and a video message from US Climate Envoy John Kerry.