Can the LatAm market grow into its full potential? That was one of the questions being asked early at the IATA Annual General Meeting in Miami, Florida this week. In a special session on the eve of the main meeting talks were held regarding the infrastructure and regulatory challenges faced by airlines in the region and what they – and their host governments – can do to help address those challenges. With 8% of the world’s population and only 5% of the aviation market the Latin America region is a prime target for growth in the industry. And that growth would be a boon both to the aviation industry and also to a market where tourism is a major part of the economic engine, a part which air travel helps to facilitate.
Peter Cerda, IATA’s Regional Vice President, suggested that the governments of the region have the ability, and perhaps the duty, to help shepherd in an era of significant economic growth for the region, but that such growth is predicated on building consistent and reasonable rule set, among other things.
Air transport is the mass transit system of the global economy; it drives economic growth, creates jobs, and facilitates business opportunities. …[W]hen governments adhere to global standards and work in partnership with the aviation industry, the positive economic repercussions aviation brings are easily attainable. The efforts by air carriers to create a dynamic and thriving aviation industry will only be realized if governments work to ensure excessive taxes and regulations don’t stunt its excellent growth prospects
The discussion was not only about pushing for lower taxation and a more consistent regulatory environment. There were also positive announcements about recent successes in the region and specific plans to move forward.
Foremost of these comes in the form of a new Mexico City international airport, slated to open in 2020 and to relieve the currently overloaded Benito Juárez facility. During the session IATA announced the signing of a MOU between the group and both the old and new airport authorities under which IATA will provide technical and operational assistance in the construction and transition process. This includes helping with slot management at the current airport in an effort to keep things operating smoothly until the new, larger airport opens at the end of the decade. It will also include transitional guidance for moving operations to the new facility as well.
Also of interest in the session was the discussion of the relative aviation infrastructure levels in the region, as rated by IATA. While a few nations have strong services in place (Panama was cited as a shining star in the region) many others are seen as struggling significantly. While part of that comes from the relative size of the countries and the ease of building a solid operation with only one major airport versus many, IATA hopes to facilitate progress in the larger countries, too. And maybe to knock the taxes down a bit where it can.
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