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Airlines seek rapid infrastructure development for growth

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IATA’s Director General and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Alexandre de Juniac

International airlines have urged governments around the world to support aviation growth with requisite infrastructure, especially the provision of airports.

The airlines, under the aegis of International Air Transport Association (IATA), said the problem is that more people want to fly than airports have the capacity to accommodate.

Speaking at the CAPA Aeropolitical and Regulatory Affairs Summit, in Qatar yesterday, Chief Executive Officer of IATA, Alexandre de Juniac, reiterated that aviation is a global industry, with 4.6 billion travellers to transport this year alone.

In addition, the sector would power the global economy by transporting 66 million tonnes of cargo, the value of which accounts for a third of global trade.

de Juniac said 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,” he said.

The CEO, however, regretted that capacity remains a problem, and “the solution is to build more capacity, which is not happening fast enough.”

He observed that cash-strapped governments are increasingly looking to the private sector to help in the development of airport capacity.

“We believe that critical infrastructure capacity like airports must be developed in line with user needs. And airline needs from airports are rather simple: adequate capacity, the facility must meet airline technical and commercial requirements and it must be affordable.

“We don’t really care who owns the airport so long as it delivers against these goals. Achieving these will also serve the local community well by supporting growth in traffic and stimulating the economy.

“But our experience with privatised airports has been disappointing. So much so that airlines unanimously agreed a resolution at our last Annual General Meeting (AGM), calling on governments to do better.

“Our members urged governments to be cautious, while focusing on the long-term economic and social benefits of an effective airport as part of the country’s critical infrastructure; learning from positive experiences with corporatisation, new financing models, and alternative ways of tapping private sector participation. (Also), making informed decisions on ownership and operating models to protect consumer interests, and locking-in the benefits of competitive airport infrastructure with firm regulation.”

IATA added that slots, passenger rights, and airport privatisation help illustrate why a Smarter Regulation approach, based on global standards, is critical to fostering aviation’s future growth.

“Where we have seen liberalisation in markets, there has been growth. In general, airlines are for liberalisation of markets. There is full support, for example, for the Single African Air Transport Market initiative.

“But there is no broad industry consensus on what are fair pre-conditions for broad liberalisation. The commercial considerations for airlines are critical. And governments have the tough job of adjudicating what constitutes fair.

“More generally, some political circles are rejecting globalisations benefits. They favour a protectionist future that can only lead to a far less connected and less prosperous world—both economically and culturally.

“We need to work towards a more inclusive globalisation. But it is a fact that globalisation has already lifted a billion people from poverty.  That could not have happened without aviation. And we are well-aware that our industry has a critical contribution to most of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.

“IATA is a trade association. Our primary aim is to help our member airlines to deliver connectivity safely, efficiently, and sustainably. This is enormously important and positive for the future of our world.

“IATA has no political agenda and takes no sides in political disputes. But we know that aviation can only deliver its benefits with borders that are open to people and to trade. And so, in these challenging times, we must all rigorously defend the Business of Freedom,” de Juniac said.


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