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 help fulfil its potential as a connector of people, trade and tourism and is a driver of sustainable development. These are the conclusions drawn in a new report, Aviation: Benefits Beyond Borders, issued by the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG).
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, more broadly. Across Latin America and Caribbean, specifically, air transport supports 5.2 million jobs and contributes $167 billion to the region’s GDP.
In the next 20 years, forecasts suggest that aviation-supported jobs worldwide will increase to over 99 million and GDP to $5.9 trillion. The Latin America and Caribbean region has seen marked growth in passenger traffic in the last five years, with this growth set to continue. However, the region is in need of infrastructure development if the forecast growth is to be accommodated. Industry experts in Latin America also highlight the need to address the tax arrangements in many countries, which have a negative impact on economic development.
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.”
“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.”
Eduardo Iglesias, executive director of the Latin American and Caribbean Air Transport Association (ALTA): “Air transport plays a key role in a region as large and diverse as ours, especially in terms of advancing economic development, bringing communities within countries together, and creating jobs. The additional benefit of all these activities translates into improved livelihoods, offering new goods and services, and an opportunity to link to an increasingly globalised economy. Governments must agree on common global rules to secure a sustained growth of air transport in the region while preserving its competitiveness in relation to the rest of the world.”
Javier Martinez Botacio, director general for Airports Council International Latin America and Caribbean (ACI-LAC): “As the air transport system continues to be a key driver for the economies of our region, the airport community reiterates its commitment to continue to collaboratively work with all industry stakeholders. We must align efforts between governments and the industry to develop the required infrastructure capacity to support sustainable growth, thereby maximizing the benefits that the air transport system has proven it can provide.”
Javier Vanegas, Director Latin America and Caribbean Affairs for the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO): “Air traffic is rising rapidly in the region but this growth is hampered by fragmented airspace, varying standards and protocols and not enough sharing of data between States. CANSO’s aim is to ensure the region can fully achieve the economic benefits of aviation through greater harmonisation of airspace. CANSO is working with States to achieve this through implementing performance based navigation, collaborative decision making, air traffic flow management (AFTM) and other measures to improve the efficiency of airspace.”
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.