GENEVA - It is not only Namibia or the Hosea Kutako International Airport that is currently experiencing a major aviation infrastructure challenge as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) yesterday revealed that the industry, globally, is approaching an infrastructure crisis.
IATA warned that as airports are becoming overcrowded and the aviation industry continues to grow, both in terms of passengers and cargo, countries will need to significantly invest in infrastructure to receive some of the economic benefits associated with world-class airports.
Speaking at IATA’s Global Media Day here, Director General and CEO of IATA, Alexandre de Juniac, cautioned: “Decisions must be made today if we want the necessary infrastructure available a decade from now.”
IATA warns that the global aviation industry is experiencing a capacity crisis.
De Juniac emphasised that airlines cannot connect the world without airports and traffic management. He noted that airline infrastructure need include sufficient capacity, alignment with technical and service level needs as well as affordability, noting that the aviation industry is a critical enabler of the global economy.
“It is a long-term mistake to forego the economic benefits that a major hub would generate…our projections are for 8.2 billion air journeys in 2013 (about 4 billion more than today). And Planning by most governments is not ambitious enough to meet that demand,” De Juniac cautioned.
He continued that travellers themselves directly see the problems with airports. “We recently polled travellers and fund that 70 percent of them sense the overcrowding of airports and over half would support plans to expand their community’s airport. Still we face the bottlenecks around the world,” said De Juniac.
Some countries, particularly in emerging markets, have mooted the possible privatisation of their airports as a possible solution to financing and operational challenges. This is because of the cash-strapped governments who often look to the private sector for solutions. However, De Juniac advised governments to be cautious regarding the privatisation of airports, which was IATA’s resolution was adopted at their AGM earlier this year.
“Airlines have many bitter disappointments with airport privatisation. Our June AGM unanimously passed a resolution urging governments to be cautious,” said De Juniac. IATA is therefore working with governments around the world to assist airport privatisations to deliver on expectations by establishing best practices for concession contracts, which balance the interests of airports, airlines, communities and consumers.
De Juniac continued that IATA is closely working with African governments on key areas, namely improveng the regulatory environments, improving infrastructure and reducing the cost of operating an African airline. “ IATA has embarked on a very string push to elevate African airlines,” De Juniac added.
Currently, the global aviation industry transports about 12 million people a day, 180 000 tonnes of cargo a day and generates about one third of global trade by value, which is about US$20 billion every day.