Vladimir Putin

The Role of the Aviation Sector on Toronto’s Economic Recovery

Thursday, July 15, 2021

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The Role of the Aviation Sector on Toronto’s Economic Recovery

Please join us for a virtual discussion focusing on the critical economic impact of the Toronto Island airport to the successful restart of Ontario’s urban visitor economy.

The event will feature Neil Pakey, CEO of Nieuport Aviation, owner and operator of the passenger terminal at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport; John Thomas, CEO of Connect Airlines, a planned new airline entrant to Canada via the Toronto City Airport; and Scott Beck, President and CEO of Destination Toronto. Farah Mohamed, long-time community resident, business leader, and social profit entrepreneur will be the moderator.

The panel will explore the critical role of this airport in the urban visitor economy, its unique role in connecting Canada’s financial sector with our largest global trading partner, the United States, and discuss how strategic infrastructure investments are necessary for it to continue to evolve as a key urban gateway and tourism hub.  They will also explore why U.S. carrier Connect Airlines has its eyes on Toronto City Airport as a new hub offering travelers more choice to key American cities.


Farah Mohamed

Social Entrepreneur & Former CEO, Malala Fund

A social profit entrepreneur, Farah Mohamed knows how to grab hold of a challenging current issue and ensure action and momentum for results towards a better world. She most recently served as the CEO of the Malala Fund, inspired by Malala Yousafzai, who survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban for going to school and became the youngest person ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.  She’s also founder of G(irls)20, which galvanizes the world’s greatest resource – girls and women – and cultivates a new generation of leaders through education, entrepreneurship and global experiences

Farah is a compelling storyteller and presenter who shares powerful stories of humanity and change from around the world. She has a relaxed presentation style which puts audiences instantly at ease with her down-to-earth pragmatism and relatable storytelling style. Through compelling personal experience and lessons-learned, Farah inspires audiences to cultivate a better future by showing passionate leadership, empowering young people, and seeing the value of a social profit entrepreneurship mindset. Her well-researched presentations frame data in a way that brings numbers to life as she connects the dots in a convincing manner and get your audience excited for the possibilities of change.

In her role as Malala Fund CEO,  inspired by Malala Yousafzai, who survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban for going to school and became the youngest person ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, she’s involved in advocating for resources and policy change needed to give all girls a secondary education, investing in developing country educators and activists, and amplifying the voices of girls fighting for change. Her fund invests in the future of girls and women with more than $8.6 million towards girls’ education programmes.

Previously, as Founder of G(irls)20, Farah Mohamed designed the organization G20 style; a cool take on the G20, which puts girls and women at the very heart of the issues.  This internationally active organization brings together one delegate girl from each G20 country concluding in a global Summit that generates ideas that are presented to the G20 Leaders, global mentorships and the creation of delegate led initiatives.  G(irls)20 is a globally active social enterprise that cultivates a new generation of female leaders through education, entrepreneurship and global experiences and provides advice to G20 Leaders on how to increase female labour force participation as it is key to economic growth.  The program involves skills building (entrepreneurship, business planning, communications, technology navigation, leadership, and more).  G(irls)20 also provides advice to G20 Leaders on how to economically engage girls and women to reach growth targets.

Magna heiress and former Cabinet Minister, Belinda Stronach recruited Farah to establish The Belinda Stronach Foundation (TBSF). Under Farah’s leadership, TBSF created and launched the Foundation’s flagship programs including One Laptop Per Child for Aboriginal Youth. She also oversaw the Foundation’s work in Liberia with President Johnson Sirleaf and a $1M humanitarian relief effort in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.

Farah is passionate about working with young people to empower them at a crucial time in their development. She saw the need to change the way we engage both women and men and acted on it. She works tirelessly to engage the private sector and government leaders in a way that makes economic sense: to place girls and women at the heart of the economic decision making and yield the benefits in doing so.

Of Indian heritage, Farah was born and raised in Uganda before her family was uprooted and sought refuge in Canada. Her upbringing instilled her with a strong work ethic and keen sense of curiosity, which eventually culminated in her working in politics. For 10 years, Farah worked closely with some of Canada’s most senior politicians including Paddy Torsney and Anne McLellan. Post politics, Farah served as Vice President, Public Affairs and Community Engagement for VON Canada where she was successful in building government and private sector partnerships.


Neil Pakey

CEO Nieuport Aviation

Neil Pakey is the Chief Executive Officer at Nieuport Aviation. He has served as the CEO of the Shannon Airport Group, the CEO of Peel Airports Group, as Managing Director of Liverpool John Lennon Airport and Head of Marketing for Manchester Airport plc. Neil was the Senior VP Network Marketing at the Vantage Airports Group. Neil was a National Expert to the European Commission’s Air Transport Policy Division for three years, working on air transport liberalization and regional airport access. Neil also currently chairs RABA, the UK’s Regional and Business Airports Group. Neil holds a Master of Science in Transport Planning and Management from the University of Westminster and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. Neil was awarded an Honorary Fellowship from the University of Central Lancashire for services to Tourism and was named the IOD Director of the Year for Merseyside in 2007.

John Thomas

CEO Connect Airlines

John Thomas is the CEO and co-founder of Waltzing Matilda Aviation (WMA). WMA will be launching Connect Airlines, a new airline starting operations in Fall 2021 connecting passengers between Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport and airports in the Northeast and Midwest United States. John has been actively involved in the aviation industry for 40 years, as a senior airline operating executive and as a strategic advisor to the global aviation industry.

John led the Global Airline Practice for LEK Consulting for over 20 years advising the world’s leading airlines and OEMs on M&A, ancillary revenues, loyalty programs, airports, alliances, and restructuring. John recently led a turnaround as Group Executive, Virgin Australia Airlines. Presently, in addition to actively managing WMA, John sits on the Board of Skyservice, the largest Corporate aviation service provider in Canada, as well as the Board of Icelandair Group, and continues to provide advisory services to the broader aviation industry including as Senior Advisor to Spike Aerospace Inc., ATM Consultants Group, and CAPA Centre for Aviation.

WMA is a Boston based FAA Part 135 jet charter operator (Certificate number 6WZA614N) that has started the process to add FAA Part 121 scheduled and non-scheduled services to its Air Operators Certificate. WMA began private (Part 91) operations in June 2008 and has operated thousands of hours of safe and reliable flying with a focus on delivering superior customer service. WMA owns and operates both its own aircraft as well as managed aircraft. WMA brings together a group of aviation professionals, many of whom have been involved in jet charter operations in the Boston area for over 20 years. WMA is passionate about flying and dedicated to providing a high quality of service.

Scott Beck

President & CEO Destination Toronto

Scott Beck is the President & CEO of Destination Toronto.

He’s a champion of the visitor economy and a proven leader in the destination sales and marketing industry, spending 14 years as the President and CEO of Visit Salt Lake in Salt Lake City, Utah. He also served on the Executive Committee of Destinations International for six years and as the organization’s International Board Chair from 2014-2015.

Before Visit Salt Lake, Scott worked in the hotel industry for 18 years, most recently with Ocean Properties Ltd. (OPL) as the General Manager of the Salt Lake Marriott City Center. While at OPL, Scott spent time in B.C. and Alberta working on a task force with OPL’s Canadian affiliate, Atlific Hotels. Prior to his time with OPL, Scott served as Director of Sales and Marketing for Sundance Resort in Provo, Utah.

Scott’s a proud father to four daughters, and lives in Toronto with his wife, Angie Welling, along with their two rescue dogs. True to his roots, Scott’s an active skier, biker and outdoor enthusiast.