The global airline industry is not against regulation, but need "smart regulation", said IATA director-general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac.
“What we are looking for is a real solution to a real problem. Regulation that has calculated a benefit that outweighs the cost, one that takes into account industry expertise for efficient implementation, and is in alignment with global standards,” de Juniac said at the CAPA Aeropolitical and Regulatory Summit 2020 at the Sheraton Grand Doha on Wednesday.
He said, “Aviation is a highly regulated industry. And much of that regulation is founded on global standards. Two months ago, on December 7, we celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Chicago Convention. Even as the Second World War was raging, governments could see the potential for aviation to “greatly help to create and preserve friendship and understanding among the nations and peoples of the world.”
“A few months later - on April 19, 1945 - airlines came together with a vision for IATA—an association that would enable air transport “to benefit the people of the world.” Over the next 75 years IATA has promoted safe, efficient and sustainable services.”
De Juniac said, “By working together with governments, the freedom to fly has reached more and more people. In 1945, some 9mn people travelled by air. Today, we transport that same number of people, on average, every 18 hours.
“Regulation, much of it based on global standards, has been an enabler of this great democratisation of air travel.1945 was a very different world. It was four years before the first passenger jet and decades before the computing power of today, yet, the most fundamental principle of the Chicago Convention - that aviation needs global standards to operate efficiently - remains true.”
Global standards and regulation have evolved over the decades with the industry. Most of the time this has been a positive evolution. But the industry has also suffered well-intentioned regulatory efforts that have not produced the desired results.
The classic example is the US tarmac delay rule. US regulators wanted to eliminate excessive tarmac delays to improve the travel experience even in difficult situations like extreme weather events. They set the fines so high that long tarmac delays have virtually disappeared.
“Good result? Not really. Airlines are incentivised to pre-emptively cancel flights rather than risk a long delay. And a cancelled flight is never a good outcome for a traveler!”
De Juniac stressed the “continued criticality” of global standards to this industry some 75 years after the founding of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and IATA.
He highlighted four specific examples - climate change, infrastructure, certification and Novel Coronavirus - in the context of various crises that the industry is facing today.
“The freedom that aviation provides is critical to the world in which we live. With the help of good regulation, we constantly improve safety, efficiency and sustainability. We have a critical role to play in containing and eventually solving this current crisis,” he noted.
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