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Press Release No.: 38

Date: 15 September 2009

US Needs To Restore Aviation Leadership Role

Washington - The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called on the new Obama Administration in the US to renew its role as a leader in the global aviation industry and take immediate action to boost the US economy and to make the global system safer and more secure.  In a speech to the International Aviation Club of Washington, Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and CEO, outlined a prescription to help the US aviation industry recover from a crisis worse than the period following 9/11. 

“The industry situation remains bleak. With rising fuel costs and falling yields, recent optimism in the global economy has not appeared on the industry’s bottom line. Our future must be built on normal commercial freedoms, effective infrastructure, dedication to safety and environmental responsibility. Government bailouts are not the answer,” said Bisignani.  “President Obama has a full agenda, but aviation policy must also be among his White House priorities.  Putting NextGen on a fast track would provide tremendous stimulus to this country including 77,000 new jobs.”

IATA also urged the Obama Administration to deliver broad policy changes in the areas of safety, security, environment and commercial freedoms:

Safety:  The global accident rate through August is down 30% compared to the same period a year ago.  “Getting on a plane is about the safest thing you can do,” Bisignani said. “But every fatality reminds us that we must do better.”  IATA called for greater cooperation between the US and ICAO to break down silos and share safety information and data.  “The US also needs to provide leadership based on global standards as the industry addresses the challenge of training aviation professionals.  Evidence-based training and multi-crew pilot licensing have tremendous potential.”

Security:   IATA outlined three important steps the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) can take in order to improve security and make the system more efficient.  “The US must put an end to duplicate and conflicting data collection efforts by coordinating across DHS departments. Stakeholder consultation is essential. And to be effective, the focus must be on harmonized global standards,” said Bisignani. In the area of cargo security, Bisignani warned that the 100% deadline for screening set for next year is at risk as the government has not yet certified the required tools to meet the objective.

Environment:  Bisignani urged the Obama Administration to work together with industry to reach the industry’s goal of carbon neutral growth from 2020. The aviation industry is united behind IATA’s Four Pillar Strategy of technology investment, efficient infrastructure, effective operations and positive economic measures. Aviation’s emissions are expected to fall by 7% in 2009—5% as a result of the recession and 2% directly related to the strategy. US contributions to emissions reductions are critical. Accelerating the implementation of NextGen air traffic management and creating the fiscal and legal framework to support investments in sustainable bio-fuels are two important steps. Bisignani warned that US proposals to include aviation in cap-and-trade legislation would be counterproductive.  “The US must exempt aviation from its cap-and-trade proposal to give ICAO an opportunity to develop a global sectoral approach. If not, this punitive tax will not only undermine ICAO’s work, but it will also contravene the Chicago Convention and compromise the US’ ability to object to Europe’s unilateral inclusion of aviation in its emissions trading scheme. Environment is a global issue. Only a global solution will be effective,” Bisignani said.

Commercial Freedoms:  “It has been three decades since the US started the process of domestic deregulation,” Bisignani said. “This crisis highlights that we must finish the job,” he added in a challenge to be a leader in the work to reform the more than 60 year-old bilateral system.  Bisignani challenged some of the proposals in Congress, which would be counterproductive to that goal.  “Tightening restrictions on alliances and antitrust immunity are protectionist and show a lack of understanding of aviation and how the global economy works. These are symptoms of lost leadership.”

“This crisis must be an opportunity to work with governments, including the US, to become safer, more secure, greener and profitable,” said Bisignani.

View Giovanni Bisignani's full speech

Notes for Editors:

  • IATA (International Air Transport Association) represents some 230 airlines comprising 93% of scheduled international air traffic.

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