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Global airlines leverage Chicago convention to tackle barriers

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

Global airlines are leveraging the 1944 Chicago Convention and its provisions to tackle emerging problems facing the international aviation community.

The airlines, numbering 290, pledged commitment to the convention guiding international civil aviation to address common problems of competition, environmental barriers, and infrastructural constraints among others.

The operators, at a meeting organised by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in the United States yesterday, found the convention most sufficient to promote win-win for all parties.

IATA’s Director General and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Alexandre de Juniac, noted that some 75 years ago, as World War II still raged, a group of far-sighted individuals met in Chicago and laid the foundations enabling the development of the globally interconnected and interdependent world through aviation.

“Today, aviation has become the business of freedom, liberating us to pursue our dreams and fulfill our hopes, while powering economic growth and development, ” de Juniac said.

He observed that in the United States, aviation supports 6.5 million jobs and contributes $779 billion to GDP including aviation-supported tourism.

To ensure that aviation continues to live up to the legacy of the Chicago Convention, in addition to maintaining safety as the industry’s highest priority, de Juniac urged stakeholders to focus on environmental sustainability, a policy framework that encourages competition and innovation, and infrastructure that is efficient and affordable.

The operators reckoned that environmental sustainability was the greatest challenge to the industry’s license to spread the benefits of air connectivity.

“We are already helping people to fly sustainably. The environmental impact of an individual traveler has been cut in half compared to 1990, and we have decoupled emissions growth from underlying traffic growth.

“Now we are moving forward on our interim goal of capping net CO2 emissions through carbon-neutral growth. Since 1 January, airlines have been tracking their emissions and they will begin reporting them to governments in 2020 under CORSIA, the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation, agreed by member states of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). Carbon offsetting through CORSIA is expected to mitigate around 2.5 billion tonnes of CO2 and generate over $40 billion in climate finance between 2021 and 2035,” the president said.

Aviation is also working towards its 2050 target of achieving a 50 per cent reduction in net CO2 emissions compared to 2005. Sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) potentially will play a huge role, but for that to occur, governments need to enact policies supporting commercialiation of SAF.

Advances in airframes and propulsion systems such as the development of all-electric and hybrid-electric aircraft will also play a big part in cutting aviation’s emissions in half by 2050. It will also require operational improvements and greater efficiency from air navigation services providers.

Turning to the need for a pro-competition policy framework, de Juniac said, “Competition unleashes innovation and helps drive prices lower. This is what occurred following airline deregulation. Subsequently, we’ve seen how removing barriers to international competition through Open Skies agreements has also spurred the market and benefitted consumers.”

He cautioned against efforts to turn back the clock on deregulation through consumer rights rules whose costs exceed their benefits, citing Canada’s Air Passenger Protection Regulations as an example.


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