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Re-shaping the aviation sector to make it fly high with the millennial talent

Publisher: World Tourism Forum Lucerne,

World Tourism Forum Lucerne, together with Korn Ferry and IATA, orchestrated and conducted personal interviews with 50 CEOs and other highly influential and committed aviation leaders globally as well as organised a concurrent global online study of millennial talents to evaluate how the aviation industry is rising to their career hopes and expectations. The results were formally announced at the World Tourism Forum Lucerne in May 2017 and the ensuing discussions serve as the basis for the now published Action Plan. This Action Plan is aimed at sharing simple actionable steps that can be adapted by the aviation sector to make it more attractive to the next generation of talent.

Recent years have seen consumer behaviour in many fields undergo significant changes. Once loyal customers have become much more demanding. And the younger millennial generation increasingly expect more customized and experience-oriented offers. Martin Barth, President and CEO of the World Tourism Forum Lucerne: "It's a developing dynamism which represents new challenges for the airline business. And particularly so when it comes to finding talented new staff. So the World Tourism Forum Lucerne – together with IATA and the Korn Ferry– have launched a joint mission to seek solutions aimed at making the airline sector a more attractive employer. It's not merely a matter of financial incentive, but above all of enhancing personal motivation through individual career perspectives. Our concept embraces the encouragement of innovation and creative thinking, a sense of belonging within an enterprise as well as a more inventive remuneration and reward system." The full Action Plan can be accessed under this link (aviation study).

An Action Plan based on two studies
The Korn Ferry survey participants – 95 per cent of who are millennials – expressed a preference for enterprises in which they would be involved in the decision making process and idea-exchange innovation. The most popular picks for tourism-related enterprises amongst the survey respondents were Airbnb, Uber and Google. Korn Ferry the global executive search and recruitment giant believe that the fact that none of these enterprises are rooted in the airline industry should be a cause for concern. According to Torbjorn Karlsson, co-author and Senior Client Partner, Civil Aviation Practice, “Long established enterprises are often seen as old-fashioned. Many have problems finding new talents and competing against companies in the younger tech sector. Airlines must definitely become more attractive if they are to win over technically-minded talent and make the industry more innovative."

The CEOs interviewed called for greater focus on talent management within the airline industry. They want to see sufficient scope and adequate environment being created for unconventional ideas and greater flexibility. Only then will business models be better suited to the changing needs of staff, consumers and the market. According to Aradhana Khowala, a member of the WTFL Advisory Board who conducted the CEO Interviews and co-authored the report: "We believe that millennial talents will have major impact and influence on the future of business world. It is inevitable and therefore business leaders have to reassess their current strategy and the industry must re-orientate itself. Aviation as a sector has to stop offering only employment. Instead it should offer “opportunities”. Opportunities that resonate with millennials and opportunities that enable this next generation of business leaders to innovate and reinvent themselves in a global and dynamic entrepreneurial environment."

World Tourism Forum Lucerne   
Prof. Martin Barth, President & CEO   
T: +41 41 228 99 80  

Simon Benz
T: +41 44 421 41 28


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