Aviation: Benefits Beyond Borders demonstrates aviation's global value and warns of the potential impact to the industry from trade wars.

Global aviation

Aviation leaders reiterated the need for free-trade agreements following the publishing of a report looking at the social, economic and environmental impact of the air transport industry.

The report—entitled Aviation: Benefits Beyond Borders—released by the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) looks at the fundamental role civil aviation plays in modern society.

Launching the report at ATAG's Global Sustainable Aviation Summit in Geneva, Executive Director Michael Gill pointed out that 10 million people work in the industry, serving 12 million passengers daily, and the sector also supports 65.5 million jobs and 3.6% of global economic activity through the wider supply chain and tourism.

By working with one another and trading openly, we create a stronger economic outlook. Aviation is the key driver for this positive connectivity

"By working with one another, learning from each other’s cultures and trading openly, we create a stronger economic outlook and we also continue the conditions for peaceful interaction across the globe. Aviation is the key driver for this positive connectivity," Gill said.

His comments were backed by the Director General of the International Business Aviation Council, Kurt Edwards, who emphasised how sub-sectors can work together and improve the industry as a whole. 

"All sectors of aviation contribute to the industry's benefits globally. The business aviation sector employs almost 1.5 million people around the world, contributes hundreds of billions of dollars to the global economy, and provides connections to and economic activity in remote regions and underserved locations," he said. 

"Business aviation allows businesses to thrive in small or medium-size towns and to stay connected to the rest of the world. Often, business aircraft operations at a remote airstrip serve as the catalyst for economic development in small communities."

According to the research, an open approach to trade will see growth that supports 97.8 million jobs and $5.7 trillion in economic activity by 2036. 

In challenging times, the ability of aviation—the business of freedom—to spread prosperity beyond borders has never been more important

In contrast, the report claims that should governments continue to pursue isolationist policies then the air transport industry would suffer to the tune of $1.2 trillion less in economic activity and 12 million fewer jobs.

Some of the other key facts outlined in Aviation: Benefits Beyond Borders, include:

  • Air travel carries 35% of world trade by value ($6.0 trillion worth in 2017), but less than 1% by volume (62 million tonnes in 2017).
  • Airfares today are around 90% lower than the same journey would have cost in 1950—this has enabled access to air travel by greater sections of the population.
  • If aviation was a country, it would have the 20th largest economy in the world—around the same size as Switzerland or Argentina.
  • 57% of world tourists travel to their destinations by air.

International Air Transport Association Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac welcomed the findings, saying that aviation's importance to the global economy must not be underestimated.

"Airlines empower people’s lives and turbo-charge the global economy through a worldwide network that safely carries more than 4 billion passengers and 62 million tonnes of freight each year," said de Juniac.

"In challenging political, economic and environmental times, the ability of aviation—the business of freedom—to sustainably connect cultures and spread prosperity beyond borders has never been more important."