After spending nearly four years as the global head of cargo at the International Air Transport Association, Des Vertannes has announced he will retire at the end of June.
Before accepting the high-level IATA role, Vertannes worked as the executive vice president for cargo at Etihad Airlines. He started his career in air cargo at British Airways, where he worked in various cargo management and sales positions.
“After a long and incredibly fulfilling career in air cargo, the time has come for me to pass on the baton and spend some more time with my family. This is not a decision I have taken easily,” Vertannes said in a statement.
“There are so many exciting challenges in air cargo, so many great projects we are working on, and so many fantastic people, whom I am proud to regard as friends,” he continued. “It will be a huge wrench to step away from that. This is not quite goodbye: for the next two months I am still at the helm, and I am dedicated to continuing the work to strengthen this amazing industry.”
Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and chief executive officer, called Vertannes an “outstanding leader” who drove the organization’s cargo agenda.
“His most recent act -- to call for a 48-hour cut in freight transit times by 2020 -- was typical of his vision,” Tyler said. “I know that all in IATA and the wider air cargo world will join me in thanking him for his great work and wishing him a long and happy retirement.”
Vertannes’ announcement is the latest in a series of retirement from the air cargo industry that seem to be happening once a year. His anticipated retirement will occur exactly one year after Ram Menen, Emirates’ former cargo head, transitioned out of the business. Dave Brooks, the head of cargo for American Airlines, retired in 2012, showing around the newest cargo head, Kenji Hashimoto, as his last act in the business during that summer’s CNS conference.
To address these and future retirements, the International Air Cargo Association and other major groups in the industry formed the Air Cargo Industry Education and Training Task Force. The group recently wrapped up a report on the state of air cargo executive training, which found that while there are many courses to prepare students for the nuts-and-bolts of air cargo, there is a complete lack of emphasis on the executive-level skills needed to rise to the top of the air cargo industry.
“Without access to such programs, the air cargo industry faces the possibility of finding it difficult to attract the required talent to guide the industry through the challenges of the future,” the report said.