Global airline executives might have gathered in Qatar for their annual general meeting this week to bemoan their lack of profitability, but the event itself was certainly not short of a dime or two.
The title sponsor and host of the IATA AGM was Qatar Airways – and the Gulf state’s flag carrier wasted no time in using the annual mix of conference, talking shop and lavish bash to showcase Qatar to the world’s eminent transport execs.
The IATA AGM of airline executives kicks off in Qatar
Doha opened a shiny new airport just in time for the event, which was kicked off on Sunday evening with a fireworks display, complete with foreboding music to mirror the industry’s gripes about slim profits margins.
Dinner was served later in the evening with lobster and tenderloin. If that wasn’t enough, it also included a performance from Grammy Award-winning star and ex-Destiny’s Child member Kelly Rowland. She sang her classic ‘Dilemma’, a situation Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker might have found himself in as Ms. Rowland pointed out to drunk audience members. Qatar’s Islamic authorities have strict rules on alcohol abuse.
American singer Kelly Rowland performs for airline executives at the IATA AGM
Ms. Rowland also crooned the Destiny’s Child classic ‘Survivor’. A nod perhaps to embattled airline Alitalia. Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways announced an hour before Ms. Rowland hit the stage that it was set to buy a stake in the Italian carrier after years of bailouts.
Kelly Rowland is swamped by airline executives at the IATA AGM in Qatar
Yet the event really took off when Ms. Rowland hit the main floor, singing in the crowd and posing for selfies with anyone with a smart phone, which was everyone, it being a senior airline convention after all.
- A giant birthday cake celebrating 100 years of aviation.
- Rory Jones for The Wall Street Journal
Finally, the AGM began in earnest the following morning. Any tired eyes and groggy heads were soon cleared by the appearance of a giant birthday cake celebrating 100 years of aviation. Mr. Baker took the opportunity to cut the cake with a traditional Qatari sword, matching his sharp wit and scything responses to media questions throughout the event.
Not content with one grand dinner accompanied by a globally recognized female pop star, the AGM had another Gala dinner on Monday evening. This time it included Australian legend Kylie Minogue and a 3D video more than 10 minutes long that showcased Qatar’s past, present, future. Even its uncertain World Cup 2022 future.
Rather aptly, Ms. Minogue began her set with WOW. Then, completely knowing her audience of transport enthusiasts, she belted out the ‘Locomotion’ before a stream of execs tried to head back to their opulent hotels in a straight line.
Australian legend Kylie Minogue performs at the IATA AGM
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(via WSJ Blogs)