Bisignani urges Obama to focus on aviation

GIOVANNI Bisignani, the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) director general and chief executive officer, has told the new Obama administration that aviation will be a catalyst to stimulating the US economy.

“Smart investments – not bailouts – in air transport will pay-off with jobs and boost other industries,” he said.

Speaking at the Wings Club in New York – whose members include leading aviation figures and leaders – Bisignani highlighted some of the areas that needed government attention.

“The US air traffic management system is in desperate need of an upgrade. Airlines and airports cannot be efficient economic catalysts if we operate in gridlock. I urge the president to allocate the US$4 billion needed to get the ball rolling with the first phase of the long-awaited NextGen project that will create some 77,000 jobs in the US economy”.

Bisignani also criticised the lack of governmental efficiency in standards of security and safety despite the US having spent $5.9 billion annually on the problem since 11 September 2001.

“I am not convinced that we are much wiser or any more efficient in our processes,” he said. “We spend billions [of dollars] on security with little data to support the actions taken. Governments have made minimal progress on recognising each other’s security standards. We need a system that is threat-based, risk-managed and cost-efficient, with mutual recognition of standards. Security principles must be a part of the corporate structure of all industry players and governments must be accountable to show value for every dollar that is invested”.

He also asked the president to support the aviation industry’s efforts to manage carbon emissions and to further reform the deregulation of commercial markets, specifically to open up foreign ownership restrictions.

“The priority of government is to create jobs and restore the economy to health. In the US, aviation supports 10.2 million jobs and $1.1 trillion in economic activity. Meaningful change in government’s approach to security, the environment and commercial freedoms will ensure that aviation plays its role as an economic catalyst,” said Bisignani.

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