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Date: 10 July 2012

Remarks of Tony Tyler at the ECAC Triennial Session, Strasbourg

It is a pleasure to join you here for this important meeting.

Aviation makes possible global mobility for nearly 3 billion travelers each year. It moves nearly 50 million tonnes of cargo which represents about a third of the value of goods and services traded around the world. And, in doing so, aviation supports employment for some 57 million people and drives $2.2 trillion in economic activity.

Airlines play a key role in making this happen. But delivering safe, secure and sustainable global mobility is a team effort that involves a complex value chain and critical relationships with regulators and policymakers. And it works best when we are aligned and working to global standards—agreed upon by governments through the well-established processes of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

So it is fitting that today IATA will sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC), formalizing our cooperation with an initial focus on the top priorities of safety and security. And, of course, this comes shortly after ECAC gave formal recognition to the IATA Safety Audit for Ground Operations (ISAGO) in December last year.

Europe, as you know, plays a key role in international aviation. Nearly a quarter of global passengers are traveling to, from, or within Europe. The more than 700 airports and 45 air navigation service providers (ANSPs) spread across the continent are critical infrastructure partners which help link Europe to world markets. And the industry in Europe supports some 8.7 million jobs and $750 billion in GDP.

This demonstrates that aviation is an important industry for European economic success. And in the world aviation context, Europe is also a key player. So our work as an industry, together with the regulators who comprise ECAC, is significant. It is also rich in the potential to develop aviation’s ability to contribute even more to the European economy.

Today I would like to address four specific areas: infrastructure, safety, security and sustainability.

Infrastructure: On infrastructure, the global aviation community is concerned about the lack of progress on this continent. The focus of our concerns should come as no surprise.

The Single European Sky (SES) is progressing far too slowly. By 2020 the SES is meant to

  • Deliver a 70% improvement in capacity while ensuring that safety levels are maintained
  • Reduce aviation’s environmental impact by 10%, and
  • Cut costs in half.

To date, states and ANSPs are not meeting the watered-down cost efficiency targets that they set for themselves. And none of the nine Functional Airspace Blocks will meet the substantive requirements of the legislation by December this year.

The airline industry is frustrated. Europe cannot afford the inefficiency of today’s structure. It is estimated that the cost to airlines of European airspace fragmentation is some $5 billion annually. To put that into perspective, our projection is that European airlines will lose $1.1 billion this year—the heaviest losses for any region’s airlines. That is why we are supporting the European Commission Vice President Siim Kallas in his top-down approach. And we are calling for stiff penalties for states and ANSPs that don’t meet their targets.

Airlines have similar concerns that Europe is not moving fast enough on airport infrastructure. In May, I was at a conference in Beijing where the Civil Aviation Administration of China Administrator Li Jiaxiang talked about China’s plan to complete 70 new airports by 2015. Dubai World Central will be the world’s largest airport. China and the United Arab Emirates are among the countries that best understand aviation’s ability to catalyze economic growth. Contrast that with what is happening in Europe. This continent needs to do business with the world. But plans for a third runway at Heathrow—Europe’s largest international hub—have been blocked politically. Frankfurt airport completed a fourth runway and promptly faced a ban on all night flights. Munich voters have rejected a third runway.

States need to build their infrastructure capacity to create jobs by connecting their economies to global business opportunities. Slot coordination is a useful tool to help manage scarce capacity. But it is not a long-term substitute to having concrete on the ground. And deviating from the accepted global standard of the 80:20 use-it-or-lose-it rule to 85:15, as Europe is planning to do, will create problems. The industry would welcome much that the Commission is proposing in its Airports Package. But we cannot support any legislation that would have the effect of forcing airlines to fly empty planes to hold on to their slots—which is exactly what an 85-15 rule would do.

Safety: Our greatest achievements on global standards relate to safety. Through ICAO, regulators have built the standards that have laid the foundation for aviation to transform our world into a global community. Last year was our safest year ever. As you know the Western-built jet hull loss rate stood at one accident for every 2.7 million flights. The industry is as committed to safety as its regulators. The IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) is a condition of IATA membership. And with more than 370 airlines on the IOSA registry, nearly a third of IOSA airlines come from outside of our membership. With your support it has evolved to be the global standard for airline operational safety management. And, in 2011, the safety performance of IOSA-registered airlines was 52% better than that of carriers that did not comply with its rigorous 900-plus standards.

Safety improves constantly. We are feeding that improvement with data that is collected, shared and analyzed by industry and governments. The Global Safety Information Exchange was a landmark achievement by ICAO, the EC, the US Department of Transportation and IATA. We are committed to building that further and to using data to drive improvements. The Enhanced IOSA is a product of data-driven improvements. And I hope that you will take the opportunity to give it formal endorsement at next year’s ICAO Assembly.

We all recognize that safety levels are not uniform. The two tragic accidents in Nigeria last month reminded us that it is a constant challenge even in states with a very proactive safety leadership. And I would like to take this opportunity to encourage Europe to take another look at its list of banned carriers. Transparent global standards make aviation safe. We can measure improvements as a result of IOSA. And I have seen nothing that would indicate to me that the banned list is improving safety levels. But proactive measures such as the Africa Strategic Improvement Action Plan which will be presented to African ministers in Abuja next week will deliver results. And I urge you to support it.

Security: Alongside safety is security. Europe is among the leaders on security. And we are of a like mind that there is tremendous scope to make airport security more convenient and more effective. The EU has publicly supported IATA’s Checkpoint of the Future program, and ECAC has participated in both advisory and expert groups to guide the program’s progress. The support comes alongside that of 17 other governments and Interpol.

Our vision is for a risk-based approach powered by passenger data already collected for immigration purposes. And we want to evolve the process from today’s hassles of stopping, unpacking, separating liquids and gels, and disrobing. We are working with ICAO on standards to guide the Checkpoint’s development. Trusted traveler programs in the US and Canada are demonstrating what can be achieved through a risk-based approach. And soon we will be seeing further technology trials. There is plenty of opportunity for Europe to contribute more to the process by

  • Accelerating Checkpoint of the Future trials at European airports—including the implementation of Checkpoint of the Future Version 1.0 which relies on technology available today
  • Supporting ICAO research on next-generation security technology
  • Working together with IATA on capacity building that would raise the overall level of infrastructure security in those areas that need it.

If we cooperate in these areas, I am convinced that by 2020 airport security will be much more effective and less intrusive for passengers. I look forward to European endorsement of the Checkpoint at the next ICAO Assembly. And I also encourage you to keep in mind that aviation is a globally connected industry. As my colleague Guenther Matschnigg will emphasize in the Security Panel later today, harmonized rules and mutually recognized programs are the key to improving the overall system.

Sustainability:
I have saved the most topical priority for last—sustainability. Deviations from global standards or a global approach hinder the industry. And in the case of our efforts to manage aviation’s climate change impact, Europe’s go-it-alone, unilateral and extra-territorial approach to market-based measures is triggering a trade war—a war that Europe cannot afford, and from which no one can emerge victorious. European jobs are at risk and European competitiveness is being undermined at a time when the economy needs all the help it can get to put itself back on the path to recovery.

On 22 March, fifteen leaders from the air transport industry representing airlines, airports, manufacturers and ANSPs signed a declaration re-committing themselves to a 1.5% annual improvement in fuel efficiency to 2020, to cap net emissions from 2020 with carbon-neutral growth and to cut net emissions in half by 2050 compared to 2005 levels. This is a responsible industry. And we are on track to meeting our ambitious targets.

But we are also a highly regulated industry. So government alignment and support of these goals is crucial. In particular we need commitments

  • To improve air traffic management by delivering the Single European Sky,
  • To support the commercialization and prioritization of sustainable biofuels for aviation, and
  • To find a global framework for market-based measures through the ICAO process.

The latter has reached a critical stage and Europe needs to do something to defuse the currently very tense situation. It is not for me to suggest what. I am sure that many of you have clear ideas. But my reading of the international situation is that non-European states feel as if they are being forced to negotiate a deal on market-based measures with a gun to their head. Addressing climate change should unite the world, not divide it. So I will repeat my call for Europe to find an unequivocal means to demonstrate that it is a sincere participant in the ICAO process. Only this will clear the way for a global agreement on market-based measures at the next Assembly. And only an agreement at the next Assembly will save us from the chaos that would result from the failure to implement a global approach.

And lastly, let me emphasize that the industry is here to support your efforts. We will not be able to achieve our climate change commitments in the absence of the global agreement on market-based measures. We are fully ready to engage at whatever level necessary to help facilitate your success at the next Assembly.

Conclusion: Commercial aviation is 98 years old. IATA and ICAO have been around since 1945. ECAC celebrated its first half-century of existence last year. Like many of you, I’ve spent almost my entire working life in aviation. But no matter how long an organization or an individual has been associated with the institutions of aviation, the role and importance of global standards in keeping flying safe, secure and sustainable is absolutely clear. It’s our responsibility to defend, support and evolve those standards so that aviation can continue to make our world a better place. 

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