- IATA officials happy about preparation of the first ever summit in Colombo
- Over 150 top aviationdelegates from around the world attending
- Will discuss possibilities to boost ‘slower than expected’ growth in industry
By Cheranka Mendis
Asserting that Sri Lanka is a “wonderful place and a great platform” to host the second edition of the IATA Global Aviation Human Capital Summit,
IATA Vice President Human Capital Dr. Guido Gianasco yesterday commended SriLankan Airlines for putting together a thought-provoking program for “sparkling, vivid, and frank discussions” on the human capital requirements of the growing industry.
The two-day summit, which commences today, will be held at the Hilton Colombo under the theme ‘Talent for Tomorrow’. Approximately 150 local industry stakeholders will also attend the event. An IATA Human Capital Network will also be launched today.
With some 150 foreign delegates attending the event, among which are heads of HR and trainers for various airlines, as well as non-IATA members including civil aviation authorities and transport ministry representatives, the event is an opportunity for those within the industry to work, benchmark, share information, build networks, and strengthen human resource systems and processes.
Addressing a pre-summit press conference yesterday, Dr. Gianasco stated that the industry was growing despite facing a number of key difficulties such as the rising cost of fuel, the world economic situation, and the struggle to attract talent in the market. “Growth is slower than expected, so are margins and profits. In this context, attracting the right kind of people and the quality of staff and management are critical factors for an airline,” he said.
Members have to struggle with rising costs, and strong competition and airlines are the only players in the aviation industry that do not make money, he commented. “Everybody else is making a lot of money – manufacturers, governments, airports. It is very difficult market and of course when you operate on minimum margins and cost, you look at every factor that you can to make money and be competitive. Well-trained people and competent managers will add to the success.”
The industry is also struggling to attract talent, with the youth expressing increasing interest in fields such as consumer goods and looking at airlines as a ‘second class choice’.
In this regard, having a forum to meet, network, share experiences and best practices, develop joint initiatives, and prepare for the future is of immense importance, Gianasco expressed. “While there are many forums that focus on HR, there have been none specifically for the industry. It is in this context that IATA launched the summit last year in Singapore.”
Gianasco said: “We are delighted to have chosen Sri Lanka because this is a wonderful country and there is great opportunity for growth. Supporting this is a senior management team at the helm with a vision which supports IATA vision and activities. It is in this backdrop that we decided to choose Sri Lanka.”
He also requested participants to take the opportunity to visit the island to realise the potential of the country.
A distinguished panel of speakers from the aviation and human resource fraternity will spearhead the summit, with discussions on attracting and retaining talent and developing the next generation of global aviation leaders in an open forum format. Other key topics include managing cost while maintaining an exceptional level of service and maximising the use of technological advancements to engage the workforce.
“It is the first international aviation summit and first IATA summit to take place in Sri Lanka; and without a doubt it will supplement Sri Lanka’s ambitions to become a global hub and the most-preferred tourist destination in South Asia,” SriLankan Airlines Chairman Nishantha Wickramasinghe said.
“The event provides a rare opportunity to showcase the best of Sri Lanka to a large group of decision-makers from the travel and tourist trades not just as a tourist destination, but as a country that is capable of hosting business events of an international calibre due to the rapidly advancing infrastructure and supporting facilities.”
The summit also coincides with the country’s celebration of 100 years in civil aviation.