"More people than ever are flying, 1.8 billion in 2004, and the challenges to the industry have never been so great. Airlines must meet customer expectations for cheaper travel while retaining the value of service quality and the network system and returning value to shareholders," said Giovanni Bisignani, Director General and CEO of the International Air Transport Association in the keynote speech of the first Aviation Day at Berlin's ITB.

Highlighting the industry's need for change Bisignani said, "We need to become a low cost industry. Our partners and governments must understand this and do their share.

IATA is leading a comprehensive programme to Simplify the Business of the aviation industry that will cross all sectors of the travel industry. Simplifying the business rests on five core projects designed to improve service while cutting costs:

  • 100% e-ticketing globally by the end of 2007
  • bar coded boarding passes
  • radio frequency identification for baggage management
  • common use of self service kiosks for check-in
  • paperless cargo

The trick is to turn what airlines have achieved individually into industry systems. E-ticketing is our main focus. We ended 2004 with nearly 19% of tickets processed through IATA being E-tickets. By the end of 2005 we will be at 40% and we are confident to meet our 100% target by the end of 2007," said Bisignani.

Bisignani also challenged German infrastructure to keep pace with the industry's need to change. "Germany's main airports are living in the wrong age," said Bisignani with reference to increase in charges at Munich and Frankfurt. "German airports need real, independent and effective economic regulation."

Similarly, plans to privatise DFS, the German provider of air navigation services, are being watched closely by the industry. "Instead of reducing their costs, DFS plans to increase charges by 3.0% in 2006 and a further 8% in 2007. If DFS behaves this badly as a public monopoly, how will it act as a private monopoly?" questioned Bisignani. "The industry's bottom line is transparency and consultation during the privatisation process with real economic regulation that encourages efficiency."

Bisignani criticised the European Commission for its record on aviation issues. "Instead of a clear policy vision we have a bureaucratic approach to a dynamic industry. The result is micromanagement and mis-regulation which is epitomised by the badly conceived European rules for compensation for delays and cancellations," said Bisignani. In contrast, Bisignani looked forward to results from Germany's Standort Deutchland initiative that brings government and industry together.

Travel, tourism and aviation are linked. Our customers are the same and many of our challenges are common. Together we should expect greater efficiency from our infrastructure providers and effective policy from our governments," said Bisignani.

Full speech text