Panama City – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced new data showing that aviation and aviation-related tourism contributes some $5.9 billion to Panama’s economy, an amount equal to 12.6% of the country’s GDP. This is much higher than the global average contribution of 3.4%, reflecting the positive impact of efficient connectivity to Panama’s economy.

This finding was among the highlights of the Economic Benefits of Air Transport in Panama study which IATA commissioned the independent research institute Oxford Economics to prepare for 2015.

“Aviation and aviation-related tourism are critically important to Panama—an economy built on connectivity. It’s been a successful strategy that supports Panama’s strong economic links with an efficient airport and a very successful airline. With over 40% of passengers at Tocumen International Airport transiting through the facility, it is clear that Panama has carved out a major role in the region that is paying significant economic dividends,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO, who is visiting Panama for the release of the study.

Other key findings include:

  1. Aviation is an important employer. It supports some 43,500 jobs directly and 137,500 more when including the impact of aviation-related tourism.
  2. The average air transport services employee generates approximately $118,410 in gross value added annually, which is over five times more productive than the average in Panama.

The considerable weight of aviation in the Panamanian economy is a direct result of the country’s adherence to global best practices which foster the growth of aviation. This in turn has unlocked major economic benefits for the country.

Tyler urged the government to keep to this proven model of success. “What is taking place in Panama is not happenstance. Panama understands aviation and has laid the groundwork for the expansion of the country’s air connectivity. This long-term view is a powerful lesson for many of the countries in the region who see aviation exclusively as a short-term cash cow, hindering its growth with excessive taxation and inadequate infrastructure investment. This, in turn, deprives citizens of the unique social and economic benefits of robust air connectivity,” added Tyler.

Read Tony Tyler's Speech

Economic Benefits of Air Transport in Panama Study (pdf)

Beneficios Económicos del Transporte Aéreo en Panamá (pdf)

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Notes for Editors:

  • IATA (International Air Transport Association) represents some 250 airlines comprising 84% of global air traffic.