Speaker biographies


No business class seat unoccupied – A solution for higher airline yield

Chris Engle

Chief Customer Officer, Plusgrade

A graduate in International Business from the University of Washington, Chris Engle originally started his career as an analyst, learning more about the intricacies of the transportation industry before joining American Airlines as their National Account Manager, where he drove double-digit growth for the airline. He was soon appointed Director of Business Development at Sabre, which handles bookings for more than 400 airlines and 125,000 hotels worldwide. Subsequently recruited by ACS to head a small travel services company that it had acquired, Chris grew the company from $20 million to $500 million. Xerox noticed his strengths and named him Vice-President of Revenue Synergy in South America. He then joined Travelport as Vice-President in charge of the Americas and now serves as the Chief Customer Officer of PlusGrade.

David Gunnarsson

Chief Executive Officer, DOHOP

David Gunnarsson originally started his career as a research analyst with Kaupthing Bank, one of the biggest banks in the Nordic region, learning more about the intricacies of global finance. His work with the Investor Relations arm of the bank saw him gain valuable experience in maintaining public relations with the media, which stood him in good stead when he was appointed Director of Marketing at DOHOP, focusing on innovation in travel technology to elevate the passenger experience. He was soon promoted to Chief Marketing Officer and the company’s Chief Commercial Officer after that, with him being named Chief Executive Officer in 2015. Over the course of two decades, David and his team have worked closely with 660+ airlines and airports from around the world.


Virtual interlining is the future – Is MITA en route to obscurity?

Panel Discussion

Civil aviation, airports and airlines are a means to tourism growth and economic development

David Savy

Aviation Expert

David Savy is a highly decorated former military pilot who flew maritime surveillance aircraft in the Indian Ocean. He then flew commercial aircraft for Air Seychelles before being named the airline’s Head of Flight Operations. He worked his way up to the Director of Operations, and subsequently became the Chief Executive Officer of Air Seychelles, a post which he held for the next 14 years. He then joined IATA as a member of its Training Council; while also heading the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority. He is currently the Chairman of SkyChef and serves on the Board of the Emirates Real Estate Investment Trust, while also running an aircraft leasing and asset management company that counts Singapore Airlines, Emirates, and Delta among their clients.

Elcia Grandcourt

Director, UNWTO, Africa

Originally a graduate in Hotel Management from Singapore, Elcia Grandcourt has worked with leading hospitality chains such as Le Méridien and Hilton Hotels & Resorts; in addition to collaborating with top destination management companies from around the world, as well as major international airlines. This saw her being named Deputy CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board, and she was soon promoted to Chief Executive Officer in less than two years. She was subsequently appointed as Director, Regional Department for Africa with the UN World Tourism Organization, a position which she has held for the past ten years. Elcia is passionate about sustainable tourism and also holds a Master’s degree in International Relations, which she makes good use of in her current role.

Panel Discussion

Does tourism growth have a conflict of interest with sustainable environmental goals?

Panel Discussion

AirlinePros product diversification a must – Unlocking airline service’s success

Gavin Eccles

Aviation Consultant

A graduate of Sheffield Hallam University, Gavin Eccles taught Tourism and Hospitality at Bournemouth University before designing MBA course material at the University of Surrey. He then worked as a consultant for British Airways, American Airlines, and Qantas before being named Advisor to the Board at Turismo de Portugal. This saw him subsequently being appointed Chief Commercial Officer of SATA Air Açores, where he excelled in the role. He is now a Professor of Aviation at Universidade Lusófona in Lisbon, while also continuing to be a Managing Partner at GE Consulting, where he routinely lends his expertise to aviation and tourism-related matters. Gavin holds a PhD in Strategic Marketing and is also in charge of Atlantica University’s executive education programs for the aviation industry.

Lauri Reishus

Chief Executive Officer, Airlines Reporting Corporation

With more than three decades of experience to her name, Lauri Reishus originally began her career with American Airlines before being named Vice-President at Navigant, the second-largest travel management company in the United States, prior to its acquisition by Carlson Wagonlit Travel, the largest travel management company in the world outside the United States. She then joined the Airlines Reporting Corporation, where her diligence and work ethic soon saw her being promoted to Chief Operating Officer and Vice-President in charge of Business Operations. After more than ten years in the role, Lauri was appointed as Chief Executive Officer of ARC, which now counts 230 airlines as its members, in addition to 10,000+ travel agencies and 13,000 points of sale.


Innovation Drives the Biggest BSP Equivalent in the World


USA market dynamics post-pandemic

Mike Premo

Aviation Consultant, Business Travel Hall of Fame

Mike Premo is a highly respected aviation and travel industry professional with nearly five decades of experience to his name. He started his career with Northwest Airlines, where he made his way up to the Director of Reservations Operations. Entering the travel sector, he was named President of SatoTravel, which provides travel solutions to the Government and Armed Forces in the United States. He was then placed in charge of Latin America at Navigant, which was subsequently acquired by Carlson Wagonlit Travel. Mike then joined the Airlines Reporting Corporation, where he made use of his rich experience to become President and CEO. He now resides near the Dulles International Airport in Washington DC and enjoys golf in his spare time.

Newton Muriithi

Customer Success Manager, EveryMundo

A graduate in Information Technology from Strathmore University, Newton Muriithi worked with Ogilvy, where he learned more about the importance of reaching out to the customer. This saw him joining Kenya Airways where he oversaw various digital transformation projects that would greatly enhance the online customer experience while at the same time ensuring that the airline’s business needs were met. His efforts caught the eye of Qatar Airways, where he helped significantly increase their online presence. Newton now assists with the development of global digital marketing strategies for leading airlines like Singapore Airlines, Emirates, American Airlines as well as low-cost carriers such as Frontier Airlines, Spirit Airlines, WizzAir to increase their market share and sales, all the while focusing on customer acquisition.


Driving direct web sales for airlines – A dream come true!


Future-proofing airlines – Leading aviation trends and powering innovation

Stephan Copart

Head, Digital Transformation, IATA

A postgraduate in International Marketing, Stephan Copart studied Business Administration at the University of North Carolina before joining the world of aviation as a Sales and Marketing Manager. Making use of the knowledge he gained from this role, he then moved into a Business Development function with IER, which provides solutions for the transportation industry. He was soon named General Manager for Northern Europe, and promoted to Vice-President shortly thereafter. At IATA, he helped make the passenger experience at airports smoother, which saw him being appointed Head of Strategy in charge of Industry Services Transformation. The pathbreaking initiatives he pioneered saw him being named Head of Innovation and Head of Digital Transformation soon after, where he continues to drive change management programs that enable digital transformation.

Willy Boulter

Airline Consultant

Willy Boulter is an experienced airline professional with more than four decades of experience to his name. After serving Cathay Pacific as their General Manager, South African Airways named him their Executive Vice-President in charges of International Alliances. As Group Commercial Director at Virgin Atlantic, he led the acquisition of their Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft; and after a stint with Gulf Air as their Chief Commercial Officer, he joined IATA as their Regional Vice-President for the Asia-Pacific region. He was subsequently appointed Vice-President in charge of Network Planning at Etihad; and TAAG-Angola soon brought him on their Board, where he helped reduce their losses by 97%. This saw him joining IndiGo as their Chief Commercial Officer; and he now divides his time between Kent, UK and Yokohama, Japan.


What constitutes an effective GSA – An airline’s perspective on cost versus quality

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