About the author – Shaking the Skies


Giovanni Bisignani is a member of the Board of NATS Holdings Limited, the UK’s air traffic services provider. He is also a member of the Board and Strategic, Remunerations and Nominating committees of SAFRAN Group, a holding company which encompasses aircraft engine manufacturing, aerospace, defence and security activities, partially owned by the French Government. He is a member of the Board of AirCastle (US), a global aircraft leasing company, and of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Aviation, Travel & Tourism (Switzerland). He is a Visiting Professor at Cranfield University–School of Engineering (UK).

Giovanni was Director General of the International Air Transport Association from June 2002 to July 2011. He became Director General Emeritus from June 2011 until his retirement in October 2011. During his nearly ten years with the organization, Giovanni drove major industry changes. The most important was making the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) a condition of IATA membership. This contributed to a 58% improvement in safety over the period 2002-11.

Giovanni also started the Simplifying the Business (StB) initiative in 2004. During his tenure, this program converted the industry to e-ticketing and bar-coded boarding passes, made common-use selfservice kiosks as an integral part of the travel experience and established the framework for 100% e-freight by 2015.

Giovanni mobilized the industry behind an ambitious strategy to deal with the impact of the industry’s carbon emissions on climate change. Airlines, airports, air navigation service providers and manufacturers committed to achieve carbon-neutral growth by 2020 and cut emissions in half by 2050.

Finally, Giovanni strengthened IATA’s financial clearing systems, which processed US$ 2.5 trillion during his mandate. He was also the strong voice of IATA, firmly lobbying governments to focus on long-term issues affecting the viability of aviation. He was particularly outspoken on liberalization, taxation and environment.

Giovanni’s career prior to joining IATA spans several industries. In 2001, he launched the European travel portal OPODO and spent five years as CEO and Managing Director of Alitalia during 1989–94. During this time he also served on the IATA Board of Governors and was Chairman of the Association of European Airlines (AEA) in 1991. He was a member of the Pratt & Whitney Advisory Board and Chairman of Galileo International UK and Covia US (1993–94), leading companies in the global travel distribution system industry. He also held directorships at Finsider, Fincantieri, Italstat, Sme, Assolombarda and was Chairman of Merzario USA (1998–2001). Giovanni began his career in New York with the First National Citibank and then held several highlevel positions at the energy company ENI and with the Italian industrial conglomerate IRI Group. From 1994 to 1998, he served as President of Tirrenia di Navigazione, the largest Italian ferry company and, from 1998 to 2001, as CEO & Managing Director of SM Logistics, a group of logistics and freight forwarding companies partially owned by GE.

Giovanni studied both in Italy (Università La Sapienza – Economic & Commerce School) and the United States (Harvard Business School). In June 2008, he received the honorary degree “Doctor of Science honoris causa” from the School of Engineering at Cranfield University in the United Kingdom, becoming a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society the following year. Born in Rome in 1946, he speaks Italian, English and Spanish. He is married with one daughter and enjoys golf, tennis and riding.

Gold Mercury International - The Global Governance and Visionary Leadership Think Tank. Gold Mercury works with organisations and leaders to navigate global complexity and develop the strategic visioning and innovation required to build the sustainable business models and brands for the future. Since its founding in 1961, Gold Mercury has been a pioneer in global governance and globalisation, advancing international and economic cooperation in different spheres. Our historic GOLD MERCURY AWARDS® for global governance exemplify visionary leadership and sustainable decision-making. Our Award laureates include the most visionary individuals and organisations in the world, working to solve the most pressing global challenges.