11 May 2020

General

We hope that all our colleagues and those dear to them remain healthy and that the disruption of the COVID-19 crisis remains manageable, both personally and professionally. In several countries, the COVID-19 is entering a new phase, with businesses slowly re-opening. Some airlines have announced careful plans to commence flying again, though all indications are that this will be slow and cautious. In other regions, the disruption from this global health crisis remains. Despite being labelled as essential workers, ATCOs are facing significant reductions in their labour contract conditions and some are even threatened by cancellations of their contracts. It is everyone’s guess how long this crisis will last and what the final outcome will be, but it is clear that IFATCA will have an important role to play.

We have just updated our COVID-19 Guidance Document to version 2.0. The work was coordinated by our EVP Professional Peter van Rooyen, but it is truly an IFATCA team effort.

The previous version mainly looked at how to prevent the spread of the infection in an operational environment. In this new version, several new sections now also consider:

  • the possibility of a second wave;
  • the impact on mental as well as physical wellbeing;
  • what we can do to prevent misinformation;
  • how to deal with reduced traffic demand operations;
  • the impact of the crisis on on-the-job training;
  • a look ahead to the recovery phase.

We have also added more COVID-19 video-interviews by Marc Baumgartner to the IFATCA website. There’s now a total of 15 videos, good for over 7 hours of talks with colleagues from around the world. The latest additions include an interview in French with colleagues from ASECNA and Algeria; an interview in Spanish (or at least the answers) with our USCA colleagues from Spain; and the second Asia/Pacific interview with our MA from Taiwan. We have collected the interviews on a single page to make them easier to access. Note that you still need to login – check with your IFATCA Representative for details.

Also this week, the Psychosocial Counselling Department of Lufthansa Airlines contacted us about IFATCA’s Coping with COVID-19 guidance document. They want to use it as the basis for their own document for their employees. It shows that the work of the IFATCA experts is well appreciated and recognised within the aviation community.

Open Letter

Last week, a number of MAs addressed an open letter to the Executive Board and expressed a number of concerns. Interaction with the MAs is something that the EB sees as a top priority and this initiative is welcomed. As it is not possible for us to meet and engage in face-to-face discussions at the moment, we wish to address these concerns. While this cannot replace the discussion that will need to take place at some point, we hope that it assists all Member Associations to appreciate the issues and how the Board is planning to  move forward, in the interest of the Federation and all the Member Associations.

IFATCA EB Vision & Strategy

The direction of the Federation is focused on delivering more practical benefits to the membership, particularly the less fortunate Member Associations. The following is an executive summary of the current key areas. For more details on the vision and strategy please refer to the conference report of PCX for Singapore.

Promote knowledge 

We have already produced several guidance documents available on the website, and the new wiki.ifatca.org will serve as an online knowledge source for all Member Associations. The workshops initiative is well developed now, and will begin to generate some income to support additional course concepts. This on-site delivery method will be supported by an online education platform for more simple topics that is about to be released for operational trial. 

Deliver expertise 

The expert advice that we provide to SESAR will be expanded to other regions where possible, to promote our policies directly into the industry. This also greatly benefits Member Associations at home, promotes the Federation, and acts as a development platform for our representatives.

Build sustainability 

The above strategies are envisioned to, over time, build a solid base of income for the Federation that will reduce our reliance on Membership fees and therefore reduce the burden on all Member Associations, in particular the more vulnerable ones. The finances, in general, are undergoing a complete overhaul. Elements addressed include replacing our accountant and auditors, and internal management processes to provide a more robust and transparent system.

Enhance Engagement and Representation

The regional meetings, as a more representative body, are being elevated to make more decisions of a regional nature, absorbing some of the technical & professional workload from the annual conference. The annual conference itself will be streamlined in order to reduce the burden on the Federation, the host Association, and the delegations. Too much of our financial and physical resources are directed at this single event. There will also be more practical take-home benefits from the annual conference such as mini-workshops.

Some of these initiatives are underway, others are part of a phased approach for the coming years. The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting the feasibility of some aspects of this strategy in the near future, therefore a new strategy document will be developed and distributed for comment as soon as possible. At present, our resources are focused on the delivery of material to assist Associations with the pandemic itself.

The Conference 2020 working papers, including the reports of the different board members, can be found on our Conference Archive. Note that since the 2020 papers were not discussed in Conference, they have been marked as such.

APRIL EB NEWSLETTER

A previous Newsletter we published, on April 10, contained references that caused some disappointment amongst members. We apologise for the poor choice of words and wish to reiterate that the Executive Board appreciates and values the work members undertake on behalf of the Federation across all regions. The Executive Board clearly needs to continue working on engaging with all its members and is fully committed to increasing the efforts on this front.

ENGAGEMENT WITH MAs 

The most efficient way for the board to interact with the Member Associations is still through the Regional Vice Presidents. It’s nevertheless recognised that there may be broader, pan-regional issues that need to be discussed at a global level and/or directly with the Executive Board. Traditionally, these matters would be brought up at conference but our modern world often requires, even demands, quicker interaction. The Executive Board is looking at whether we can expand this interaction efficiently; we don’t want to overload Member Associations with surveys, questionnaires and online voting systems, yet a system of direct feedback appears to be desirable. We want to stress that it is always possible to send an e-mail directly to the Executive Board ([email protected]) or through the IFATCA Office ([email protected]). We also endeavour to respond to questions and remarks via our Facebook page and Twitter account, though the public nature may make it less suitable for ’sensitive’ issues. Any additional suggestions to this respect are of course welcome.

One concrete thing we are planning to expand further is online webinars and video interviews. This is partly through the circumstances that are making face-to-face meetings impossible, but also as they are a cost-efficient way to make IFATCA more visible, both towards its own associations as to the outside world. In that respect, if there’s anything positive about the current crisis, it is that it is quickly enhancing the possibilities for such engagements.

IFATCA FINANCIAL SITUATION 

The results of the Auditor’s Report for FY18/19 are of great concern to the EB and it is accepted that control at the time was not as rigorous as it should have been. To expand on the information already provided to MAs in the letter accompanying the report, EVPF, assisted by FIC along with the IFATCA Accountants, continue to investigate in order to identify additional measures to prevent a re-occurrence in the future.

The concerns on the late delivery of the Auditor’s Report are of course entirely justified. While the WP would ordinarily be published prior to the Annual Conference, as mentioned in the accompanying email, various factors hindered that. The cancellation of the Annual Conference presented an opportunity to examine the detail and provide the associated WP with more comprehensive information for MAs to digest. Thus, the delay was in good faith and by no means an obstruction. EVPF is the first to accept that this wasn’t communicated clearly to all.

The end of FY19/20 is almost upon us. This year has seen more challenge and critical analysis across the EB. IFATCA Accountants have been instructed to provide an early indication of financial performance so that this may be analysed by the EB, examined by FIC, and transmitted to MAs at the earliest opportunity.

It is an unfortunate fact that some MAs find themselves in a position of not being able to pay their membership fees; like previous years, 2020 has been no exception as far as numbers being listed for suspension or termination. The mechanisms laid out in our Constitution and Administrative Manuals are clear but still this isn’t helpful to those that genuinely struggle. It is important though that early communication with the Office may mean that a solution can be reached or a plan implemented. The current health crisis and economic climate will only magnify this further and the EB is working to minimize the impact. Therefore, and in light of the cancelled Annual Conference where many MAs pay in cash, the EB agreed that any suspensions or terminations of MAs would be inappropriate at a time when MAs need access to advice and guidance. A strong, united, Federation will benefit all now.

REQUEST FOR A SPECIAL CONFERENCE

We would like to inform the MAs that we have established a task force consisting of DP, EVP EUR and EVP AFM to investigate arrangements for a Special Conference. There are difficulties related to finding a location due to the extensive travel restrictions that currently are in place. Even if restrictions would be lifted in the future by some governments, they may be reinstated upon an expected second wave of Covid-19.

If travel is possible, various countries may also require quarantine before entry and upon return to a person’s country of residence. Equally, some employers may require ATCOs to quarantine before returning to operational duties after international travel.

For the above-mentioned reasons, one must acknowledge the fact that there is the possibility of low attendance and no quorum. However, there is always great benefit in meeting and discussing issues face to face and if it is feasible, the Executive Board recognizes a Special Conference as a good opportunity to do so. More information will follow as soon as possible.

Conclusion

The cancellation of our Annual Conference in Singapore has left an unfortunate void: it has taken away the main opportunity for Member Association to interact with, and give direction to, the Executive Board. This is even more unfortunate, as many Member Associations left the 2019 Conference with concerns for the wellbeing of their Federation and/or with unanswered questions and concerns.

The Executive Board is very much aware of this and despite the current global pandemic, believes it has the tools and the motivation to address these issues. There are however no magic solutions or quick wins that make all issues disappear. It will take more hard work, trust and time from all involved – Executive Board, Member Associations and individuals – to resolve the challenges that our Federation faces. Our strength is in being able to tackle this together, through open and constructive dialogue and cooperation.

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