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License to Grow

Aviation supports about 57 million jobs; by 2030 we expect that to be boosted by 26 million jobs

Growth and jobs are what the world economy needs most. As annual passenger numbers approach 3 billion, aviation supports about 57 million jobs and $2.2 trillion in economic activity. By 2030, we expect the number of people traveling annually by air to double to 5.9 billion. That will boost employment by nearly 26 million jobs. Even more impressively, the economic activity supported by aviation is expected to more than triple—to some $6.9 trillion each year.

Aviation’s license to grow—and deliver jobs—is based on safety, security, and sustainability. We can be confident that our efforts tick all three boxes.

Flying is safe and getting safer. The industry’s 2011 safety performance was 61% better than in 2002 (based on the Western-built jet hull loss rate). Sharing data between industry and governments in the Global Safety Information Exchange is helping to guide targeted programs to mitigate identified risks.

Security continues to adapt to the dynamic threats. The Checkpoint of the Future will use intelligence and technology in a risk-based, data-driven approach to keep flying secure while making the airport experience hassle-free. Our vision for a supply chain approach to cargo security is being realized with Secure Freight. Testing is complete in Malaysia. The next step is implementation.

Aviation’s commitments on climate change—including a 50% reduction in net carbon emissions by 2050 compared with 2005—are the most ambitious of any global industry. We count on governments to support sustainable aviation biofuels with policy measures that de-risk the investment needed to increase supplies and drive down the costs. And we depend on governments to find a global solution on economic measures through the International Civil Aviation Organization process.

These efforts will secure our license to grow. But alone this does not guarantee aviation’s potential.

Over-taxation will compromise growth potential.  We saw this clearly in Northern Ireland where the Air Passenger Duty burden threatened the local economy with the loss of international connectivity.

Misguided regulation can have unintended and damaging consequences. For example, the 80-20 use-it-or-lose-it rule for slot allocation achieved 95% utilization rates. Europe’s intention to move to 85-15 could have the perverse effect of incentivizing airlines to fly empty planes.

And failure to accommodate growth with modern cost-efficient infrastructure will stunt future prospects. The slow progress of the Single European Sky limits Europe’s growth potential. Worldwide, more than 160 airports need slot coordination because they don’t have the capacity to meet demand at optimal times. London, Mumbai, and Sao Paulo are already turning away business because of a lack of hub capacity.

No government has all the answers. There are challenges in every corner of the planet. Fortunately, there are also inspiring success stories. As aviation’s leaders gather in Beijing for the 68th IATA Annual General Meeting, there is plenty of inspiration to be found. China fostered the growth of the aviation industry as a key part of its national development plans. And aviation connectivity underpins China’s economic ascendance. By 2015, one in every seven journeys by air is expected be within or connected to the Mainland of China. And with those travelers will come jobs and growth.

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