For the first time since the pandemic began, members of the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) met face to face to discuss key issues affecting the industry and to reassess the situation since the outbreak of the virus.
The ERA Membership Conference, held 24–25 November in the cosmopolitan city of London, included not only a chance to network with fellow members and industry colleagues after such a long hiatus, but also a mix of topical conference sessions.
Assessing the industry’s current and future challenges, topics on the first day of the event included the landscape of European aviation over the next decade and beyond, and how members can strive to maintain a path towards recovery. Our first day of speakers included: Jan Palmér, CEO, Xfly and President, ERA; Jóhanna á Bergi, CEO, Atlantic Airways; Pat Byrne, Chairman, Cityjet; Pierre-Olivier Bandet, CEO, HOP!; Henrik Morch, Director, DG COMP, European Commission; Gilles Feith, CEO, Luxair; Phil Seymour, President, IBA Group; Jonathan Hinkles, CEO, Loganair; and Robert Sinclair, CEO, London City Airport.
Our third session, chaired by ERA Director General Montserrat Barriga, discussed our industry’s sustainability challenges and how we can achieve net-zero European aviation, from the introduction of sustainable aviation fuels to technological advances in electric and hydrogen-powered aircraft. Panellists included: Thorsten Lange, EVP Renewable Aviation, Neste; Jérémy Caussade, President, AURA AERO; and Rod Williams, CCO, Universal Hydrogen.
Equally, COVID-19’s devastating effects on the aviation industry were felt around the globe, but how airlines responded has not been ‘one size fits all’. Therefore, for our final conference session, we heard how a selection of ERA member airlines, all operating different business models, have responded to COVID and how they have gone about surviving a global crisis. Speakers included Vasiliki Christidi, Group General Manager, SKY express; Valter Fernandes, Managing Director, TAP express operated by Portugália Airlines; and Lars Jordahn, CEO, West Atlantic.