Seattle - The International Air Transport Association (IATA) today identified three priority issues for US policy-makers: air traffic management, security and liberalization. In a speech to the Seattle Trade Development Alliance, IATA’s Director General and CEO urged US policy-makers to act locally, in line with global standards, to build a strong air transport industry.

Air Traffic Management: “US air traffic management is efficient, but it is bursting at the seams,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and CEO. “It is important to invest in next-generation air traffic control systems or we will not be able to handle future growth. I am pleased that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is trying to address this in the FAA reauthorization proposal. But whatever is implemented locally must be harmonized globally. And the cost burden must be shared equally and fairly by all users of the system - including business aviation,” said Bisignani.

Security: “The industry is much more secure now than in 2001. But we have forgotten the passenger along the way. And governments are still passing the buck. Airlines and their customers are paying U$5.6 billion each year for added security measures since 9.11. Governments must take on this cost. And they must take a globally harmonized approach,” said Bisignani. He singled out the need for the US and Europe to agree on the sharing of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data when the current interim deal runs out in July. “We need a solution - and legal certainty - with enough time for systems to be altered and passengers to be informed. Governments should not underestimate the complexity of the challenge that affects over 105,000 passengers a day,” said Bisignani.

Liberalization: The United States and the European Union last week concluded a draft agreement on liberalization. “We welcome the agreement. It’s a step in the right direction, but we have missed an opportunity to fundamentally change the industry. Politicians must think bigger and quickly move forward with the planned next phase of talks. And it is not just about liberalization. I am pleased that security is also on the agenda. I urge both governments to focus on harmonization around the One Stop Check concept. Even if politicians are slow to change, business is not. By 2010, Asia will be the world’s largest market for aviation and IATA members are focusing on the markets of the future. This is good news for U.S. West Coast cities such as Seattle,” said Bisignani.

IATA estimates that the airline industry will turn the corner and show a small global profit of US$2.5 billion in 2007. “Airlines have done an amazing job at lowering costs and reinventing themselves but challenges remain. The theme for 2007 and beyond will be efficiency, efficiency and more efficiency. We need to constantly re-think the industry from top to bottom. Change is critical,” said Bisignani.