Smarter Regulation is more ‘common sense than it is rocket science’ says IATA chief

Aviation is a global industry and this year it will safely meet the transport needs of 4.6 billion travellers. It will power the global economy by transporting 66 million tonnes of cargo, the value of which accounts for a third of global trade. The industry’s footprint extends to every corner of the earth. Never before have we been so connected to each other. And as the density of global connectivity grows each year, the world becomes more prosperous.

IATA’s director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac defines aviation as the Business of Freedom, but speaking at the CAPA – Centre for Aviation’s Qatar Aviation Aeropolitical and Regulatory Summit in Doha, he highlighted this performance could not be achieved without commonly understood and implemented rules of the game. “Regulation is vitally important to aviation,” he explains.

IATA advocates smarter regulation, a concept it has been promoting for several years. “Smarter Regulation results from dialogue between the industry and governments focused on solving real problems,” he explained to delegates. “That discussion should be guided by global standards and informed by a rigorous cost-benefit analysis. In doing so, it avoids unintended and counter-productive consequences.”

According to Mr de Juniac, Smarter Regulation is more “common sense than it is rocket science”. There are, however, challenges. Three of the major issues identified by IATA are governments breaking from global standards, governments not consulting with the industry, and governments not moving fast enough to keep pace with industry developments.

He explained regulation must keep pace with industry developments and while he noted that IATA “disagrees with punitive regulation,” there are cases where stronger regulation is needed to keep pace with developing industry trends. Airport privatization is a case in point as cash-strapped governments increasingly look to the private sector to help in the development of airport capacity.

In his keynote address in Doha, he noted the environment and the need for more governments to join CORSIA and the importance of ensuring that its implementation is fully aligned with the agreed ICAO specifications; he discussed the need for governments to follow a globally-consistent and reliable system for slot allocation and the dangers of slot auctioning; and the requirement for a common sense approach in the development of passenger rights regulations.

While highlighting slots, passenger rights and airport privatisation to illustrate why a smarter regulation approach based on global standards “is critical to fostering aviation’s future growth,” he said that addresses half of the problem, with aeropolitics weighing heavily on development. The lack of peaceful relations among states in the Middle East in particular highlights this and has resulted in operational restrictions and inefficiencies.

“The blockade of Qatar is one example. Aviation is keeping the country connected to the world – but under extremely difficult conditions,” explained de Juniac. He added that looking outside the region, in Europe, the outcome of the Brexit talks “could compromise the ability of aviation to meet growing demands for connectivity”. He added: “Brexit cannot be allowed to undermine that demand”.

“More generally, some political circles are rejecting globalisation’s benefits. They favour a protectionist future that can only lead to a far less connected and less prosperous world – both economically and culturally,” de Juniac noted.

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