Airline industry is safe and profitable but protectionism a threat – IATA » Manila Bulletin Business

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By Emmie V. Abadilla

Cancun, Mexico – The global airline industry is safe, sustainable and profitable. Its performance in these areas remains solid.

The only problem? The protectionist measures of governments threaten it.  Nevertheless, “We are the business of freedom. Nothing should stand in our way,” was the rallying cry  of International Air Transport Association (IATA) Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac  before a thousand industry leaders and stakeholders at the June 5, 2017 opening of the 73rd International Air Transport Association (IATA) Annual General Meeting (AGM) and World Air Transport Summit in Cancun, Mexico.

International Air Transport Association (IATA) Director General Alexandre de Juniac addresses the audience during a meeting of the IATA in Cancun, Mexico June 5, 2017. (Reuters photo)

“Aviation is globalization at its very best. Today, 11 million people trust our companies to transport them safely. Our aircraft carry 150,000 tonnes of cargo – the input and output of the global economy. We help people to live better lives. And that includes many who will benefit from aviation without ever taking a flight,” he underscored.

However, this business of freedom depends on borders that are open to people and trade. “In parts of the world, nationalistic political rhetoric points towards a future of more protectionism. Whether those thoughts are in government, gaining currency in popular discussions or lurking at the fringe of political discourse, they are a threat to our industry.”

Although regional differences remain stark, overall, the air transport industry generates profits above its cost of capital. In 2017, the global airline industry expects to haul in a $31.4 billion profit on $743 billion in revenues. That’s a $7.69 average profit per passenger.

Flying remains the safest form of long distance travel. Last year, the industry performed 40.4 million flight sectors with just 10 fatal accidents. A major achievement on safety performance in 2016 was in Sub-Saharan Africa, which registered no jet hull losses.

“Accidents are rare, but each represents an opportunity to learn more about making aviation safer,” De Juniac pointed out.

“That’s why their investigations are mandated in Annex 13 of the Chicago Convention. But, of the 1,000 accidents investigated over the last decade, reports are available for only 300, and many of these are not exhaustive. There can be no excuse for a statistic like that. Governments must do better.”

As for sustainability, the aviation sector has agreed on the landmark Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) during the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) 39th Assembly last year.

Already, 70 states representing at least 80% of anticipated future growth have indicated their voluntary participation in the scheme. This will be a major enabler of the industry’s commitment to carbon-neutral growth from 2020 and to cut net emissions to half of what they were in 2005.

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