Use it, Don’t abuse it

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has urged policy makers to use aviation as a strategic asset. “When the relationship between industry and government works, the results are brilliant. Policies that support aviation’s competitiveness deliver wide-ranging benefits across economies by connecting business to markets,”says IATA director general Tony Tyler. Aviation is a key economic contributor. In Singapore, for example, where the government has supported aviation as a strategic industry, it contributes 119,000 quality jobs and 5.4% of GDP. This is according to Oxford Economics studies commissioned by IATA to demonstrate to governments the catalytic impact of a healthy aviation sector on national economies. “The connectivity that aviation provides to Singapore has enabled it to develop as a successful regional hub for sectors as diverse as finance, healthcare, culture and education,”said Tyler in a keynote address to the Singapore Airshow Aviation Leadership Summit. Not all governments have the same positive approach. India is one market that is missing out on aviation’s potential as a result of a policy framework that does not support aviation’s competitiveness, says IATA. For example, high taxes, a lack of capacity in Mumbai and increasing infrastructure costs in Delhi are holding back Indian aviation’s potential. “The stunted growth of Indian aviation comes with an economic cost. India’s population is about 240 times the size of Singapore’s. But the number of aviation jobs is just about 14 times larger at 1.7 million. And the economic contribution of aviation is still only 0.5% of the Indian economy. It is an important 0.5%. But even considering the differential in GDP/capita between Singapore and India, these numbers tell us that there is tremendous unrealized potential in India,”said Tyler. Asia is driving growth and shifting aviation’s centre of gravity eastward. In 2010 about 33% of passengers traveled on routes to, from or within Asia-Pacific. For North America and Europe the equivalent number was 31%. By 2015, IATA’s passenger forecast anticipates that Asia-Pacific will represent 37%, while traffic associated with Europe and North America will fall to 29%. Over that same 2010-2015 period, total passengers worldwide are expected to rise to 3.55 billion. Of the 877 million additional passengers that will be generated, 212 million are expected to fly on routes associated with China. Regarding security, Tyler urged broad co-operation among industry and governments to realize the “Checkpoint of the Future.”Aviation is far more secure today than prior to 9/11, but airline costs ballooned to US$7.4 billion annually while the level of convenience for passengers deteriorated. The introduction of more complex procedures has resulted in a decline in hourly passenger throughput at security checkpoints from an average of 335 (pre-9/11) to 149 today. “Security is a top priority that must not be compromised. But everybody hopes for an early evolution from an airport checkpoint experience defined by queuing, unpacking, removing clothing, separating certain items and possibly invasive searches. The system works, but it is struggling to cope with today’s volumes. Growth will only make the challenge bigger. One of my priorities is to build global consensus that will see the Checkpoint of the Future improve the quality and convenience of airport security,”said Tyler.