As the final speaker among this group, and after two excellent days of dialogue on building a sustainable industry, I suppose my role is really to try to bring some perspective to the discussion.
We are gathered here at an significant historical moment in time. Scheduled commercial aviation is celebrating its first 100 years. On New Year’s Day 1914 a group of visionaries came together in Florida because they understood the value of transporting people and goods by air. There was an entrepreneur, a pilot, a plane-maker and, most important of all, a passenger.
Today the value of aviation extends to over three billion passengers and 50 million tonnes of cargo connecting on nearly 50,000 routes. This drives economies and nurtures the human spirit. And in hard numbers, it supports 58 million jobs and $2.4 trillion in global economic activity.
Aviation has a proud history of teamwork and delivered innovation that has changed our world dramatically in a very short time.
And, as we look forward to the second century of aviation, one of the biggest challenges that we will face is sustainability – both economic and environmental. It is a challenge that is shared with all industries—indeed all human activities. And it is a challenge that is shared across the value aviation value chain and by all who have a stake in aviation. That includes local communities, governments and even our passengers and shippers.
Throughout this conference, the spirit of teamwork and common purpose was very evident. We need to retain that as we move forward with the important work on our agenda. I was particularly heartened to hear the positive views for the ICAO process and on offsetting. A single global offsetting scheme is our preferred market-based measure, so to hear these concepts attract wide-ranging support is very important.
Of course, our agenda goes much wider. We must find ways for biofuels to deliver a real contribution to aviation’s environmental performance. We have to make the balanced approach work even harder to manage noise. And we must ensure that we get that offsetting scheme in place to help us achieve carbon-neutral growth from 2020.
The ICAO decision to agree a framework for a global market based measure by its next assembly, to be implemented by 2020, is an important milestone - but far from the conclusion. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, it is only “the end of the beginning”. There will be much hard work over the next three years.
As we approach that hard work, let’s make sure that we take on board the lessons of how we made it this far. For as long as I have been associated with this issue—on the IATA Board and in my current position—the industry has been united and clear with its call for a global solution based on a four pillar strategy and a commitment to three sequential targets. Working together, we have demonstrated progress with more efficient operations, investments in technology and by driving improvements in the use of infrastructure. We need to be clearer and stronger with our communication and motivate our three billion customers to support our objectives.
So my main message today is really very simple: stay united and stay the course. This gives us the credibility to earn our license to grow with our stakeholders and our passengers. And it will give us the strength to find solutions to the inevitable twists and turns that are guaranteed to emerge along the way—particularly with respect to the development of a global market based measure.
We should acknowledge that there are different perspectives on this issue at industry level that are reflected at national and regional level too. But we must remain focused on the ultimate goal – the overall good for our industry and the world. We need to remember that the alternative to a global scheme will be a proliferation of overlapping, expensive national and regional measures that will cost much more than just paying for our growth.
As an industry, we are 100 years old. A lot has happened of which we can be proud. But I am absolutely convinced that this industry is only just getting started. The best is yet to come. And sustainability will be a critical key to unlocking our future and the benefits that aviation will deliver to the world.