The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has urged the US government and industry stakeholders to agree upon a set of common principles in order to enable aviation to continue to increase the level of benefits it delivers in the US and around the globe.
Speaking last week at Aviation Day USA organised by IATA and the Wings Club, Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO, identified five core principles to ensure that the business of freedom continues to grow the benefits it generates.
- we must be safe, and we must always strive to be even safer
- aviation thrives on partnership and cooperation, supported by global standards
- governments must avoid creating barriers to market innovation
- aviation must be supported by infrastructure that is efficient and affordable
- aviation must be sustainable, both environmentally and economically
Mr de Juniac focused on infrastructure and market innovation with specific references to continuing developments in the US.
In terms of infrastructure, he said development is not keeping pace with growth in demand for flights. IATA forecasts that 7.8 billion passengers will travel globally in 2036. That is nearly double the 4.1 billion who flew in 2017. To meet that demand the industry needs sufficient capacity in terms of runways, terminals and airspace, he noted.
“Quality must be aligned with our technical and commercial needs. And it all must be affordable,” he explained, but noted that he believed that as an industry in general we are headed for an infrastructure crisis – and that includes in the US – a market where passenger numbers are predicted to rise 57% over the next 20 years to 1.1 billion, but where the last all new major airport opened more than 20 years ago.
IATA also reiterated its broader concerns on governments looking to fund airport infrastructure development through privatisation. “We have yet to see an airport privatization that has, in the long-term, delivered on the promised benefits of greater efficiency for airlines and a better experience for our customers,” said Mr de Juniac.
“To date there has been no regulatory formula that effectively balances the interest of private owners to earn a profit with the public interest to have the airport serve as an engine of economic growth. By all means, invite private sector expertise to bring commercial discipline and a customer service focus to airport management, but leave ownership in public hands,” said de Juniac.
To meet the air navigation service requirements of a growing industry with technology that will improve efficiency and environmental performance, IATA lent its support to the corporatisation of air traffic management in the US.
“US air traffic controllers do an excellent job. But the US air traffic management system is falling behind in the introduction of new and more efficient technology. That is why IATA supports the long-delayed transformation and modernisation of America’s air traffic management system by placing it in an independent not-for-profit structure outside of government,” said Mr de Juniac.
The diversion of federal fees and taxes intended for aviation-related infrastructure spending is also a cause for concern for IATA. “About 21% of the average domestic ticket cost is taxes and charges. And instead of funding much needed aviation investments, too much of this money is being spent elsewhere,” noted Mr de Juniac.
If the latest House of Representatives budget proposal is passed, we will see increased charges for security and customs services. But much of that will be diverted to general spending. “It’s bad enough being taxed like a sin. It is unbearable to have those taxes spent elsewhere,” said Mr de Juniac.
IATA is also encouraging further rationalisation of the regulatory environment to remove barriers to innovation and opening the doors to the industry fully embracing the digital revolution and delivering the constant innovation critical to survival in a constantly changing competitive landscape.