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Day 2 report

Our second day in Juan-les-Pins kicked off with the invite-only Airline and Airport CEOs’ Breakfast, followed by the Airline and Airport CEOs’ Meeting, both held at the nearby Marriott Hotel. The meeting began with a presentation from Faye Malarkey-Black, President and CEO of Regional Airline Association in the US. Black discussed the current US market and pilot shortage issues, which ERA Director General Montserrat Barriga described as “enlightening and thorough”, commenting that providing loans to students to allow them to afford training is key.

Black was followed by Paul Steele, Senior Vice President, Member and External Relations, IATA, who presented on joint industry lobbying actions, discussing the industry’s responsibly on sustainability and the IATA campaign Fly Aware. He also provided an update on the ICAO Assembly – its 40th session – which took place two week ago. The final speaker at the CEOs’ meeting was Mark Anderson, CEO of Connect Airways, who provided an overview of the plans for Flybe and the Connect Airways consortium that it is now a part of. Barriga described this as a “healthy consolidation in Europe”, adding that more of these partnerships are needed to stop airline bankruptcies.

The ERA Operations Group meeting continued in the morning with a presentation from Pablo Haro, European GNSS Agency and Ronald van den Bergh, ASL Airlines Belgium, who discussed EGNOS/SBAS retrofit projects in Europe, including the development of new SB and STC for LPV and ADS-B with EGNOS, were presented with a focus on regional operators. Other topics included pilot shortage, datalink and ACNUSA.

In session

In the afternoon, delegates were welcomed to the first ERA General Assembly conference session by ERA President Andrew Kelly. Following an overview from Kelly, ERA Director General Montserrat Barriga provided an update, outlining the work carried out by the ERA Board and the ERA team on behalf of the membership during the last 12 months since the association’s last General Assembly in Edinburgh. She also discussed the current key challenges for aviation and what ERA is doing to tackle them, including Brexit, sustainability, and ticket distribution. Barriga also highlighted the ERA study on EU261 that the association launched earlier in the day at a press conference, something Kelly has previously described as the biggest threat to the aviation industry.  

Conference session two began with a keynote address from Pierre-Olivier Bandet, President of HOP! and Air France Executive Committee member. This was followed by a panel discussion that included Bandet, as well as Faye Malarkey-Black who spoke earlier at the CEOs’ breakfast; Valter Fernandes, Managing Director, TAP express operated by Portugália and Stephen Kavanagh, Board Director, Aer Lingus. This was chaired by Mikael Wångdahl, VP External Production, SAS and began by discussing airline alliances, joint industry ventures and partnerships. It was argued that though alliances can be beneficial, there is not a single model fits all. Digitalisation was also a key topic and the threats and opportunities it brings. Many felt when it comes to customer experience this was a benefit and allows airlines to engage with their customers to meet their needs more efficiently.

The day also featured news conferences by ERA’s members ATR, Embraer, Airbus, Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation, De Havilland Aircraft of Canada and GE Aviation, who shared their latest news and updates with the media covering the event.

The best of the industry

Each year, the ERA General Assembly hosts ERA’s prestigious airline and airport awards which recognise excellence in the European aviation industry. This year’s awards dinner was held at Keller Plage in Antibes, Juan-les-Pins eastern neighbour.

Spanish carrier Air Nostrum was declared the winner of the prestigious Airline of the Year Gold Award. On receiving the award, Air Nostrum President, Carlos Bertomeu, said: “The Air Nostrum family is very proud to receive this year’s ERA Airline of the Year Gold Award. This award represents the acknowledgment of not only the 1,500 people who make up Air Nostrum, but also those who have business relationships with us: manufacturers, lessors, financiers, technical and maintenance service companies, customers, etc. We truly are a great family.”

ASL Airlines Ireland won the ERA Airline of the Year Silver Award. John Rawl, CEO of ASL Airlines Ireland, said “This is great recognition for the team at ASL Airlines Ireland and I am delighted that their dedication and professionalism has been acknowledged and honoured with the ERA Silver Airline of the Year Award.”

Avion Express was this year’s winner of the ERA Airline of the Year Bronze Award. Darius Kajokas, Avion Express CEO, said: “Being acknowledged with such a prestigious award is a great honour for us. Avion Express’ team has worked hard for over 10 years developing the company as a reliable ACMI operator.”

Airlines were not the only winners of the night, with Aarhus Airport taking home the ERA Airport of the Year Award. Peer Kristensen, Aarhus CEO, said: “We are completely thrilled with this award from ERA, it is highly-appreciated recognition of the work we have done and continue to strive at, in turning our airport around and delivering the very best service to the city of Aarhus, our passengers, airline customers and stakeholders.”

Finally, each year an individual from one of ERA’s member companies is recognised for their personal contribution to the industry with the ERA Personal Excellence Award. This year’s winner was ERA Vice President Martin Isler from Luxair who throughout his extensive aviation career has worked in virtually every aspect of the airline business. In addition, he has been a dedicated member of the ERA Board for 10 years and is one of the most respected leaders within our sector, industry and association.

As well as enjoying the awards speeches, the delegates were treated to a beautiful view of the coastline’s lights, with truly French entertainment with mime artists, as well as stilt walkers, magicians and a caricaturist.