CANCUN - The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called for greater transparency in the Latin American airline industry to form a sounder basis for key policy decisions.

“We must be open and honest about the economic and social benefits that we bring; and about the policy issues that we face. Facts and figures demonstrate policy failures of the past - including failed airport privatisations,” said Giovanni Bisignani, CEO and Director General of IATA.

IATA partnered with the Latin American Civil Aviation Commission (CLAC) to release a series of new economic studies during the annual general meeting of the Latin American Air Transport Association (ALTA) focused on five countries: Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Panama.

In Latin America, airlines support 2.7 million jobs and US$157 billion in related business. “By explaining ourselves better we can help governments avoid policy myopia so that together we can build an even stronger base for future growth,” said Bisignani.

Bisignani urged attendees to work hard in four important areas:

  • Safety: “Latin America’s accident rate is higher than the global average with one accident for every 550,000 flights. This is a serious problem and it must change,” said Bisignani. The IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) is at the forefront of IATA’s comprehensive efforts to improve safety. Chile was the first government to incorporate IOSA into its national safety oversight programme. In September, Costa Rica confirmed its use of IOSA and Mexico announced that it would do the same at the ALTA conference. “These moves by governments will help improve safety in the region. And I encourage all other Latin American governments to quickly follow-up,” said Bisignani. Currently 177 carriers are on the IOSA registry, which is transparent for all to see at the IOSA registry.

  • Infrastructure: Airlines pay at least US$2.5 billion to airport and air traffic management (ATM) infrastructure providers in Latin America. “In too many places running an airport or ATM monopoly is a license to print money. The biggest problem is the airport concession-fee structure instituted at the time of airport privatisations. It guarantees profits with no incentive to invest in efficiency or better facilities. Governments across Latin America must understand that infrastructure monopolies are not cash cows. To get the greatest economic benefit from aviation we need transparent policies that result in efficient infrastructure,” said Bisignani.

  • Liberalisation: “Bilateral agreements cannot keep pace with market developments and they prevent the consolidation needed to build strong global competitors. Latin America is just 5% of global traffic divided into 39 markets. Maintaining the status quo is a one-way ticket to remain regional players in a global industry. Governments must move forward with progressive liberalisation so that policy catches-up with business reality,” said BIsignani.

  • Environment: “In 2006 IATA’s fuel programme saved 6 million tonnes of CO2 by shortening 350 air routes. Latin America has benefited from 7 RNAV (area navigation) routes, which will save 24,000 tonnes of CO2 and US$6.9 million in fuel costs. A re-design of flight procedures at Mexico City will save nearly 300,000 tonnes of CO2 and US$53 million annually. This is good news for business and good news for the environment,” said Bisignani. “By being transparent about our achievements and the technical solutions that could improve our performance, Latin America has an opportunity to shape its approach to the environment around practical measures that improve performance,” said Bisignani.

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