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Aviation & Governments Must Work Together In 2010

By Giovanni Bisignani, Director General and CEO, IATA

The start of a new year is an opportunity to set goals. Safety, security and environmental responsibility are the three core promises that airlines make to travelers. Delivering on these promises means constantly raising the bar by setting and achieving new goals.

At last December’s Copenhagen Climate Conference, it was clear that on environmental responsibility, air transport is well ahead of its regulators. Air transport was the only sector present at the meeting with specific and ambitious industry-wide targets.

Regardless of any binding agreement by governments, achieving carbon-neutral growth from 2020 and cutting our emissions in half by 2050 is a commitment that this industry has made. Achieving these targets is part and parcel of aviation’s license to grow and continue making the globe even more accessible to travelers and business.

Alone, our efforts will not be enough. During the coming months our goal is to work with governments so that we can approach COP16 in Mexico with an aligned and ambitious agenda for reducing emissions.

Strong on safety

In 2009, 2.2 billion people flew safely on commercial airlines. With an industry average of one accident for every 1.4 million flights, flying is clearly the safest form of transportation. Airlines achieved this amazing record because of transparent global standards and cooperation between industry and governments.
There were also 90 accidents in 2009. Our focus must always be zero accidents. There is scope for improvement.

The proof is that IATA member airlines outperformed the industry with one accident for every 1.6 million flights. One of our safety goals for 2010 is to find a way to share even more safety information, starting with established audit programs like the IATA Operational Safety Audit, the FAA’s International Aviation Safety Assessment Program, ICAO’s Universal Safety Oversight Audit Program and Europe’s Safety Assessment of Foreign Aircraft. Sharing the wealth of data that is collected by industry and governments is part of our responsibility to better understand safety problems and find solutions.

Security summit

The events of 25 December, 2009, catapulted aviation security once again on to the global media stage. As with safety, the way forward on security is marked by cooperation between airlines and governments. As with previous security alerts, industry worked quickly to meet the emergency requirements of governments—in this case the US.

But after the immediate reaction, something extraordinary happened. US Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano reached out to industry and accepted our invitation. IATA hosted the Secretary at a Security Summit in Geneva with leading airline representatives from around the world.

Collecting and sharing data more effectively, marrying industry operational expertise with government knowledge of threat levels and identifying better ways to screen passengers were all items for discussion.

But more important than the agenda was the opportunity to start a high-level dialogue to find a better way for airlines and governments to tackle security together. Our goal is to ensure that this grows from a one-off post-crisis event into a new modus operandi for a more collaborative approach to security. And our hope is that this fresh approach of Secretary Napolitano will inspire other governments to take similar action.

Governments and industry share common goals. Be it safety, security or the environment, working together to achieve them makes sense. Let’s hope that this will be the legacy of 2010.


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