Seventy airlines have met at the Fairmont Hotel in Monaco. The airline representatives came from all over the world: China, Ethiopia, Georgia, Saudi Arabia, and Kenya, among others.
They all participated in the three-day event, the 8th APG World Connect Conference which was held from 2nd ̶4th November. APG is an international network of professional providers for airlines. This network also includes 200 airlines as clients, out of 900 airlines registered in the world.
This is the fourth time that APG has organised this large conference in Monaco, and each time it has not been by chance. Jean-Louis Baroux, founder of APG, who has 45 years of experience in the airline business, has learnt one thing, that: “one of the secrets of success is respect for the cultural diversity and beliefs of others.” And for him, Monaco is “very special”. To him, choosing Monaco provides “a significant geopolitical sense of neutrality” and a “sense of glamour”.
The main topic of this conference was the positioning of airlines in the market, as according to Jean-Louis Baroux, they “will have to choose between the mass-market and the luxury market”. There were thematic debates and round tables as well as business meetings in the conference programme regarding, above all, the geopolitical aspect of transportation and clients’ expectations. This has been an extremely important conference due to the fact that it is very difficult to organise a meeting of such a large number of airline business professionals in one place, and thus it happens only rarely.
“There is a general assembly of IATA which usually unites between 150 and 180 companies,” explained Jean-Louis Baroux. “And then there is our event. Well, it is not the same thing, we are smaller in comparison to IATA, and not all the big airlines visit our meeting, but it doesn’t matter if you are a small or a large company, it is still the same profession and there are the same questions, obstacles and problems.”
“We are here to make money,” he added bluntly.
The company also discusses the financial issues that exist in the airline business today. Currently the situation with crude oil prices allows companies to “earn some money”. The problem is that the price per barrel has increased again and “everybody is getting ready for another relapse now”.
Also during this conference there were some keynote speakers and in the past these speakers are usually the CEOs of companies or professional economists, etc. Frederic Gagey, CEO of Air France, was originally declared as one of the keynote speakers in the conference booklets, though he could not come in the end, much to the annoyance of Jean-Louis Baroux.
“I had lunch with him twice, we exchanged numerous e-mails and then I received from his secretary the notice that he was not coming only a day before the conference. I think it is not professional. And it shows that he lacks respect, not only for us, but also for all 70 companies who spent hours on planes to come to the conference to meet him,” said Baroux.
Nevertheless, Gagey’s absence was justified by the fact that just recently on November 2nd he was replaced in his post as the CEO of Air France by Jean-Marc Janaillac and Franck Terner, who will split the responsibilities of CEO of the airline. And Frederic Gagey has now taken a post as the chief financial officer of the French airline.