Doug Lavin: New US Administration sets out aviation agenda

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Douglas Lavin, IATA’s Vice President, Member and External Relations, North America, examines the main aviation policy elements under the new US Administration.

The 20 January, 2021 inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States has brought much speculation across the globe as to what to expect from the new President and his team. Mr. Biden ran on a platform focused on three main themes: defeating COVID-19, addressing climate change, and promoting equity. 

How the Biden Administration intends to apply these themes to aviation policy is beginning to become clearer:

COVID-19: Less than 24 hours after his inauguration, President Biden issued an “Executive Order on Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel” calling for additional measures to ensure the safety of persons traveling domestically or internationally via commercial aviation and other transportation modes.

The President directed the US Secretary of State to consult with IATA and other international organizations when developing these new safety measures. To date, the only additional measure that the Administration has pursued is a contact tracing program, which IATA supports as a precursor to opening US borders to international travel.

IATA continues to ask the US Government to set forth a clear roadmap to removing international travel restrictions, particularly as we get closer to the President’s goal of making vaccinations available to all Americans by June 2021. The United States should not pass on the opportunity to lead the global reopening of our industry and the economy generally.

Environment: The Biden Administration has committed to reach net zero carbon emissions in the United States by 2050. During the 76th Annual General Meeting, IATA’s members adopted a resolution that pledged to explore pathways to reach net zero emissions in aviation. However, achieving that long term goal will depend on maintaining our global commitment to ICAO’s Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), government investment in more efficient use of airspace, and a commitment to promote the production and use of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF). We look forward to working with the Biden Administration and the US Congress to advance these shared goals.

Equity: The Biden Administration is committed to ensuring that all Americans have equitable access to opportunities offered by both public and private sector enterprises. In aviation, we anticipate that this will be seen in a renewed focus on passenger rights and the rights of passengers with disabilities. IATA and its members are committed to ensuring that everyone can take full advantage of the benefits offered by international aviation. At the same time, we continue to believe that the private sector and our competitive industry are best positioned to meet our customers’ needs in ways that are consistent with operational realities. Excessive regulation will only result in higher prices and a reduction in the flexibility needed to address the needs of our passengers.

In closing, we anticipate the Biden Administration will present both challenges and opportunities for IATA and our industry in general. In the short term, our focus will continue to be on encouraging the Administration to open its borders as soon as it can do in a safe and sustainable fashion. In the longer term, we would like to continue to partner with the US Government to ensure that the industry comes back stronger and better and resumes its critical role in our global community.


Credit | Sam Kerr