The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called on the Obama Administration to prioritize aviation as a catalyst to stimulate the U.S. economy.
“Smart investments - not bailouts - in air transport will pay-off with jobs and boost other industries,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s director general and CEO in a speech to the Wings Club in New York. “The U.S. air traffic management system is in desperate need of an upgrade. Airlines and airports cannot be efficient economic catalysts if we operate in gridlock. I urge the President to allocate the US$4 billion needed to get the ball rolling with the first phase of the long-awaited NextGen project that will create some 77,000 jobs in the US economy.”
IATA also urged the Obama Administration to deliver broad policy changes in the areas of security, environment and commercial freedoms. “Thirty years after the US started deregulation under President Carter, the job is still incomplete,” said Bisignani in a challenge to reform the more than 60-year-old bilateral system. “International markets remain closed until governments negotiate them open, and foreign ownership restrictions still limit access to global capital and prevent cross-border consolidation. What worked in the 1940s is killing the industry today. To manage through this crisis without bailouts airlines cannot have one hand tied behind their back with outdated restrictions on ownership.
“Why does the US restrict ownership of its airlines to 25%, effectively limiting the ability of international capital to offer Americans aviation jobs?" Bisignani asked. "Passengers don’t care who owns an airline, so long as it is safe and provides efficient service. Governments should take the same view. Following IATA’s Agenda for Freedom Summit last October, we are working with 14 governments and the European Commission on a Multilateral Statement of Policy Principles. I hope that early in President Obama’s term we will be able to change the structure of aviation, not with bailouts, but with commercial freedoms that will generate value for investors and provide a more secure future aviation jobs.
“The priority of government is to create jobs and restore the economy to health," Bisignani continued. "In the US, aviation supports 10.2 million jobs and US$1.1 trillion in economic activity. Meaningful change in government’s approach to security, the environment and commercial freedoms will ensure that aviation plays its role as an economic catalyst.”