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Airline Executives Complain That Qatar Airways Turned Annual Meeting of Industry Trade Group Into “Propaganda Show”

Airline Executives Complain That Qatar Airways Turned Annual Meeting of Industry Trade Group Into “Propaganda Show”

Several key industry executives complained about the way Qatar Airways hosted an airline convention in Doha according to German aviation journalist Andreas Spaeth. More than one airline allegedly called the annual general meeting for the International Air Transport Association (IATA) a “propaganda show” for Qatar Airways.

The annual jamboree took place between the 19th and 21st June in the Qatari capital and attendees were greeted by various Qatar Airways branding throughout the event.

What is believed to have irked “several big airline members” the most, however, is the decision by Qatar Airways to fly in superstar singer Jennifer Lopez to perform a private gig for IATA delegates at the Khalifa stadium in Doha – which has been purpose-built for the FIFA Soccer World Cup later this year.

According to several media outlets, it costs between $1 million and $5 million to book the ‘Jenny from the Block’ signer to perform a private gig.

Guests at the event were also treated to a spectacular fireworks display and five-star treatment. Aviation analysts have pointed out the negative optics of the event when the industry is struggling to maintain public confidence amidst operational meltdowns and staffing shortages.

Spaeth says IATA director general Willie Walsh was forced to perform a whistle-stop tour to personally visit several airline executives after the event in order to resolve the dispute.

Key themes at the IATA conference included how the industry will adapt to the “geopolitical environment that is undergoing its greatest shock in over three decades”. Executives also discussed the continuing fallout from the pandemic, the struggle to keep up with demand and the road to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The IATA conference was originally set to take place in Shanghai when Walsh announced last October that he expected China to have lifted pandemic restrictions by June 2022.

China Eastern Airlines was due to host the event but Qatar Airways stepped in at the last minute when it became clear that President Xi Jinping had no plans to lift travel restrictions or drop China’s ‘dynamic zero’ COVID strategy anytime soon.

IATA has been contacted for comment.

View Comment (1)
  • Not surprised. Remember Qatar tried to bribe …. I mean lobby airlines to move IATA headquarters from Montreal to Doha. They even promised to pay for all the costs associated with the move.

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