By Michelle Garetson
A favorite assignment of mine is attending aviation conventions and conferences because there are always new people to meet, new products and services to see, as well as industry trends to track.
This year's Regional Airline Association Convention and the IATA International Ground Handling Council's meeting proved to have all of these elements and made the trips interesting and worthwhile.
The RAA show has a real "family" feel and appeal to it and offers the opportunity for a lot of face time with attendees and exhibitors. A big surprise at RAA was the exciting entrance of the first 70-seat Embraer 170 prototype, which flew from Brazil to Nashville with a visit to Embraer's new heavy maintenance facility located at the Nashville International Airport. Another highlight had to be the opportunity to have an uninterrupted two hours with eight regional airline presidents. Each CEO got up in front of the group for 15 minutes to answer questions - and rarely did they dodge any bullets - scope clauses and hampered delivery schedules of aircraft from Bombardier and Fairchild Dornier - being two of the biggest items up for discussion. Kudos to RAA President, Deb McElroy for rounding up the regional CEOs for a lively and informative event.
IATA's International Ground Handling Council this year was held in Las Vegas and proved to be very enlightening. The most heated session involved insurance - whether it was liability insurance or war risk insurance - plenty of strong rhetoric was generated both inside, and outside, that meeting. Again, there was plenty of opportunity for exchange among exhibitors and attendees. When the doors opened and the hundreds of delegates wafted in, the intense networking began. The hall became a bazaar of sorts with exhibitors bartering for the delegates' trade. It was easy to get caught up in the enthusiasm of negotiation for products and services, as well as with the reunions of attendees who may only see each other once a year.
Snapping a rubber band around an unwieldy stack
of cards representing new friends, I feel fortunate that we can meet with one
another in these aviation trading places and share ideas. I hope to see many
of you in Las Vegas at this year's GSE Expo in October to continue in expanding
Thanks for reading.
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