Infrastructure development is not keeping pace with growth in demand for flights as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) forecasts that 7.8 billion passengers will travel globally in 2036. That is nearly double the 4.1 billion who flew in 2017.
Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO, stated this while speaking at Aviation Day USA organized by IATA and the Wings Club, in New York.
“To meet that demand we need sufficient capacity in terms of runways, terminals and airspace. Quality must be aligned with our technical and commercial needs. And it all must be affordable. I believe, however, that we are headed for an infrastructure crisis–and that includes in the US– where we expect passenger numbers to rise 57% over the next 20 years to 1.1 billion, but the last all new major airport opened more than 20 years ago,” said de Juniac.
IATA also reiterated its broader concerns on governments looking to fund airport infrastructure development through privatization.
“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. 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 serves 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 corporatization 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 modernization of America’s air traffic management system by placing it in an independent not-for-profit structure outside of government,” said de Juniac.
The diversion of federal fees and taxes intended for aviation-related infrastructure spending is also a cause for concern. “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. 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 de Juniac.