Aviation is vital to the modern, globalised world, supporting millions of jobs and driving economic growth. But the benefits of connectivity must be protected with appropriate support from governments if the air transport sector is to fulfil its potential as a connector of people, trade and tourism and a driver of sustainable development. These are the conclusions drawn in a new report, Aviation: Benefits Beyond Borders, launched today by the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) at the United Nations High Level Political Forum’s Sustainable Development Goal Business Day in New York.
Worldwide, aviation supports 62.7 million jobs and generates $2.7 trillion in gross domestic product (GDP). Not only does air transport provide significant economic benefits, but it also plays a major role in the social development of people and communities all over the globe, allowing people to travel for educational opportunities and cultural exchange. For example, 54 percent of all international tourists and 35 percent of international trade by value travels by air.
ATAG executive director, Michael Gill, says that the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the United Nations highlights a number of goals that the international community should strive to achieve by 2030: “We found that air transport in some way supports 14 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, from decent work and economic growth to quality education and reduced inequalities. By continuing to grow in a sustainable manner, aviation can strive to be a force for good for many years to come.”
In the next 20 years, the report forecasts that aviation-supported jobs worldwide will increase to over 99 million and GDP to $5.9 trillion. The highest forecast growth will be in regions with fast-developing aviation sectors, such as Africa, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific. However, this will depend on governments supporting sustainable aviation growth, particularly with efficiency measures such as airspace modernisation, infrastructure development and capacity improvements and the continued liberalisation of the sector – a factor which has delivered a substantial reduction in airfares and access to air transport in those regions that have embraced it.
Gill comments that “a significant factor in our work on sustainable development is the industry’s world-leading climate action plan. We need support from governments around the world to agree on a key part of that plan at the upcoming International Civil Aviation Organization Assembly, where we hope an agreement can be reached on a global offsetting scheme for air transport. It is a vital part of our industry’s future role in helping to support development worldwide.”
The report, Aviation: Benefits Beyond Borders, covers the global aviation sector, with regional and some national analysis. It is available for download at www.aviationbenefits.org.