IATA prods U.S. government to focus on aviation
In an address to the Wings Club in New York City, International Air Transport Association (IATA) Director Giovanni Bisignani encouraged the U.S. government to reconsider its approach to aviation. After all, he said, to remain a global powerhouse, the United States needs to think strategically.
“Aviation ties the U.S. together, connects it to the world, supports 11 million U.S. jobs and drives $1.2 trillion in U.S. economic activity. But aviation does not even rank among the top White House strategic priorities,” Bisignani told members of the Wings Club. “The U.S. aviation policy agenda is dominated by shortsighted half-measures that focus on micromanagement. We must move forward with a bigger vision with the courage to change.”
Some of the areas Bisignani highlighted included security and its associated costs, passenger rights, liberalization and NextGen. In regard to NextGen, Bisignani remarked, “It is difficult to imagine how NextGen, such an important program to improve competitiveness, could be tied up in politics with 18 extensions on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization bill that is providing funding.”
Although he admits that the new FAA Reauthorization Bill is superior to the 2010 version, Bisignani touts the immediacy of it. “It needs to be passed quickly so that we can achieve the efficiency gains, cost savings and improvement in the travel experience,” he said.
Bisignani also asked the government to help shoulder some of the expenses for aviation security. With costs escalating rapidly — approximately $7.4 billion on a global, annual basis — airlines are forced to dip into their profit margins to promote safety. However, this shouldn’t be solely their responsibility, Bisignani said.
“Aviation security is a government responsibility like security in public parks, on subways or in hockey arenas,” Bisignani said. “Governments must bear the cost, and I hope that the U.S. can play a global leadership role in rebalancing the costs and responsibilities.”