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IATA: Sustainable Aviation Requires Government Cooperation

April 19, 2012 By: George Dooley Travel Agent

Warning of the dangers of unilateral policies, governments must work together with the aviation industry to maximize aviation’s ability to sustainably drive global economic development and job creation, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) says.

“Governments and industry share a common interest in aviation’s success. Aviation is a business and a driver of economic and social development that is vitally important to governments. About 3 billion people fly annually. And the nearly 50 million tons of cargo transported by air represents some 35 percent of the value of goods traded internationally,” said Tony Tyler, IATA director general and CEO speaking at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) International Air Transport Symposium.

Aviation is a highly regulated industry at the national, regional and global levels, IATA noted. “Sustainability depends not only on what airlines do for themselves but also the policies adopted by governments,” said Tyler.

“Regulation that is neither coordinated nor mutually recognized brings a high cost of compliance without corresponding benefits, while maintaining restrictions on airlines’ access to global capital and to markets has kept airlines financially weak,” said Tyler, noting the important role of ICAO in delivering solutions to ensure aviation’s sustainability in the broadest of terms.

Tyler cited four areas where policy efforts are needed to ensure aviation’s financial sustainability:
    •    Infrastructure:  Modernization of air traffic management is needed to reduce delays, save fuel and cut CO2 emissions.
    •    User Charges:  Effective regulation of monopoly suppliers is required to ensure sufficient infrastructure, reasonable returns for operators and cost-efficient prices for airlines, in line with ICAO-agreed principles.
    •    Fees and Taxes:  Policies are needed that re-invest aviation tax receipts back into the industry and to ensure that aviation is treated as an economic catalyst not a cash cow.
    •    Regulation:  An approach is needed that resists the urge to micro-manage competition, allows airlines to explore different business models and enables market forces to play out.

Additionally, Tyler noted the need for a globally coordinated approach among governments to managing aviation’s 2 percent contribution to manmade CO2 emissions. “Aviation has committed to three targets, the most ambitious of which is to cut net emissions in half by 2050 compared to 2005. We cannot do that without government cooperation. As aviation is a global industry, that cooperation must be coordinated through ICAO."

"That is why Europe’s inclusion of international aviation in its emissions trading scheme is counter-productive. The regional approach distorts markets. And it will not have the positive impact on sustainability of globally coordinated measures through ICAO. On top of that, the unilateral and extra-territorial approach is seen by non-European states as an attack on their sovereignty,” said Tyler.

“Nobody wants a trade war. And I am confident that if Europe participates whole-heartedly at ICAO—being prepared to find solutions with the international community beyond its current plans—ICAO will successfully facilitate a durable solution for environmental sustainability,” said Tyler.

“Aviation connectivity is the infrastructure of our global community. A key component of sustainability must be a pragmatic and comprehensive policy approach focused on building competitiveness to maximize aviation’s economic and social benefits,” Tyler said.

A recent Oxford Economics study reported that aviation globally is responsible for 56.6 million jobs and $2.2 trillion in economic activity—3.5 percent of global GDP, IATA noted.


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About the Author

George Dooley
George Dooley, Travel Agent’s senior contributing editor covering retail and technology, has a long-standing reputation as one of the top travel industry journalists. He notes...

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By George Dooley | April 19, 2012
Nobody wants a trade war, IATA warns, citing the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme.
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