The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called for a change the way governments handle air transport matters so as to capture the social and economic benefits of air connectivity, by enabling a more competitive air transport sector.
IATA noted that today 8.5 million flights touch Europe each year which supports 12.2 million jobs and $823 billion of European GDP, adding that those benefits have the potential to increase with the expected 50% growth in demand for air connectivity over the next two decades.
To fully realize this potential, IATA maintained, Europe must address deep-rooted issues which hamper the competitiveness of Europe’s aviation sector. Chief among the concerns are the onerous regulation, high taxes, inefficient air traffic management, and a lack of sufficient infrastructure capacity.
“In 2037, 1.9 billion passengers should be traveling to, from and within this continent. That growth will create jobs and drive a modern economy. But these economic and societal benefits will only materialize if Europe provides a playing field on which its airline industry can be competitive. Governments must embrace a spirit of change in their policies and ambitions for aviation. If governments make the right decisions for aviation—effective regulations, fair taxes and efficient infrastructure—the competitiveness of the entire European economy will improve,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO, in a keynote address to the inaugural IATA Wings of Change Europe conference in Madrid, Spain.
IATA also announced that it is developing a Competitiveness Toolkit, which will provide governments with an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of their air connectivity. The analysis will be updated regularly, to enable stakeholders to measure progress. The first country report, for Spain, was published at Wings of Change, with key European states to follow in the coming weeks.
IATA identified three key areas of action to enhance European competitiveness: improving air traffic management, enhancing aviation infrastructure, and reducing the cost and regulatory burden.
On air traffic management, IATA listed a four-point plan for improvements which should be adopted without delay by the European Commission, states, air navigation service providers and their staff, comprising: Reforms to outdated work practices, Modernization of the ATM infrastructure, Empowering the European Network Manager and Strengthening the Performance and Charging Scheme regulation.
“This year’s ATM performance has seen delays at record levels. Passengers deserve better, and airlines cannot wait for the benefits of the Single European Sky program to materialize. Urgent action is needed today to ensure improvements are in place for next summer,” said de Juniac.