IATA has urged governments to show leadership in three critical areas for aviation – safety, security and the environment.
“Air transport is a mass transit system used by 2.2 billion people each year, supporting 32 million jobs and $3.5 trillion in economic activity. Air transport is crucial to the planet. Governments and industry must be aligned with global standards to deliver on the core promises of safety, security and environmental responsibility,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s director general and CEO. Bisignani was speaking at the McGill University Conference on Aviation Security and the Environment in Montreal on the eve of the triennial Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
In terms of safety, he said, “2006 was the safest year ever. Global standards supported a 50 per cent improvement in the accident rate over the last decade.” Over 160 airlines, covering 78 per cent of scheduled international traffic are on the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) registry. He urged governments to join the growing list of those countries that are incorporating IOSA into their safety oversight programmes.
With security, he said, airlines are much more secure today than in 2001. “But the system is still a US$5.6 billion uncoordinated mess. The common approach to liquids and gels is a step in the right direction towards harmonisation. The next step is for governments to harmonise a risk-based approach to security. We need a constant level of vigilance that is consistently adjusted to deal with specific threats or events and a common risk-assessment methodology to identify high and low risk passengers and freight,” he said.
In terms of the environment, he pointed out that airlines’ two per cent of global CO2 emissions makes them a small part of the big problem of climate change. “Air transport’s carbon footprint is growing and that is not politically acceptable – for any industry. We must become an industry that does not pollute – carbon neutral growth in the medium-term and eventually carbon-free,” said Bisignani.
To achieve this vision, Bisignani challenged ICAO’s member states to set targets aimed at saving 120 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually through more efficient infrastructure and better operations. He also challenged governments to support greener aircraft and fuel with positive economic measures (tax credits for re-fleeting and grants for research) and a stable regulatory framework.