Hosting the global media at its headquarters in Geneva for the 15th year in a row, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) kicked off its annual Global Media Day by highlighting the increasing impact of aviation on the global economy.
As part of the opening brief, Alexandre de Juniac, director general and CEO of IATA, shared that on the day of the event alone, roughly 12 million travellers will have been transported by air, along with 180,000 tonnes of cargo.
Juniac also noted that there are nearly three million people working in the global industry, and roughly a third of global trade by value relies on air, the latter equating to almost $20m a day.
“Aviation is a very relevant part of the global economy. Approximately 1% of global GDP — some $900b — will be spent on air travel in 2019,” shared Juniac.
“In a recent IATA poll of business and leisure travellers, nearly 80% recognised the cost of travel as value for money. Indeed, the cost of travel has fallen by about 60% over the last two decades.”
The director general and CEO went on discuss the progress of different elements of the industry, such as safety, sustainability, air traffic management, and infrastructure.
Juniac also delved into the current challenges associated with airports, which he highlighted a recent poll that found 70% of participants sensed the overcrowding of airports. The poll also noted that over half of the participants would support plans to expand their respective community’s airport.
To tackle the airport capacity challenge, airports operators should consider the benefits of digital transformation and its potential impact on their infrastructure. Additionally, IATA shared that improvements towards allocating scarce slots in dire need of optimisation is quickly becoming a must, while slot auctioning should be avoided.
In the case of the latter, the introduction of slot auctioning could enrich airports and trigger an increase in the cost of travel, offer little incentive to grow capacity, while also limiting competition through bolstering local carriers within the airports they serve.
Lastly, IATA continues to urge caution on airport privatisation, a key point that was raised at the organisation’s annual general meetings last June. The organisation continues to work with governments across the world to assist airport privatisations to deliver by establishing best practices for contracts that are balanced favourably for not only airports, investors, airlines and communities, but also for consumers.
Another area that was focused on during the welcome briefing was the scarcity of aviation talent. While admitting that the industry still has a dire need for skilled workers to meet the demand of present-day air travel, the good news is that airlines are hiring.
According to the global aviation trade association, there will be a 2.2% growth of the workforce in 2019 that will reach 2.9 million employees. This forecasts builds upon the 3.1% and 3.3% growth that was reported in 2018 and 2017, respectively.
Within the recruitment space, however, the participation of women in aviation remains a key issue.
“The level of participation of women in aviation is in sharp focus. The overall aviation workforce is probably roughly balanced. But that is not true at the senior level. The IATA Board of Governors is proof. Of the 32 members, two are women. And that ratio will not dramatically change because the population of women CEOs is so limited,” shared Juniac.
In an effort to tackle the challenge, IATA has partnered with Korn Ferry and other industry organisations in a study that aims to identify the best practices to adopt towards recruiting and promoting women in aviation.
IATA’s Global Media Day was held on 12 December 2018 at the global trade association’s headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.