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New Delhi: Willie Walsh, former chief executive of International Airlines Group (IAG), has become the eighth director general of International Air Transport Association (IATA), effective Thursday. He will replace incumbent Alexandre de Juniac.

Walsh, who joined IATA after a 40-year career in the airline industry, had in September 2020 retired from the International Airlines Group (IAG) after serving as its chief executive officer since its inception in 2011. Walsh was the chief executive officer of British Airways (2005-2011) and Aer Lingus (2001-2005).

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He also served on the IATA Board of Governors between 2005 and 2018, including serving as Chair in 2016-2017.

The appointment comes at a time when the aviation industry is adversely impacted by the covid-19 pandemic, which has dented demand amid travel restrictions by certain countries to contain the spread of the virus.

"IATA has been at the forefront of efforts to restart global connectivity, including developing the IATA Travel Pass. Less visible but of equal importance, airlines continue to rely on IATA’s financial settlement systems, Timatic and other vital services to support their day-to-day operations," Walsh said in a statement.

"In normal times over four billion travelers depend on aviation each year and the distribution of vaccines has put the value of efficient air cargo in the spotlight," he added.

The IATA Board of Governors had during the 76th IATA Annual General Meeting (AGM) in November last year recommended the appointment of Willie Walsh as the director general of the organization.

Indian airlines like IndiGo, SpiceJet, Air India and Vistara are members of IATA, which has over 290 member airlines.

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