The conference held in 1944 helped establish the rules and regulations of air transport.

Alexandre de Juniac

Aviation must continue to follow the path set out by the Chicago Convention to ensure the industry’s future growth.

That was the message from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Director General and CEO at IATA’s Wings of Change Americas conference in Chicago.

Speaking in the city which laid the foundations for air transport, Alexandre de Juniac outlined a number of principles to ensure aviation continues to live up to the legacy of the 1944 conference and its achievements.

If aviation is to grow its benefits, we must have adequate, affordable airport and air traffic infrastructure to support future demand

“Seventy-five years ago, as World War II still raged, a group of far-sighted individuals met in Chicago and laid the foundations enabling the development of our globally interconnected and interdependent world through aviation,” said de Juniac. 

“Today, aviation has become the business of freedom, liberating us to pursue our dreams and fulfill our hopes, while powering economic growth and development.” 

IATA’s Director General and CEO said that while safety remains the industry’s top priority, aviation stakeholders must also consider environmental sustainability, competitive policy framework and efficient, affordable infrastructure as the sector heads into the future.

Calling the environmental issue the industry’s “greatest challenge”, de Juniac said that aviation has cut the environmental impact of an individual traveler by half compared to 1990, but warned that environmental taxes do more harm than good.

“Governments, particularly in Europe, are piling on so-called environmental taxes that penalize airlines and air travelers but do little to support industry efforts to reduce emissions,” he said. 

“I have yet to see any aviation environmental tax actually being used to help reduce aviation’s environmental impacts.”

On a competitive policy framework, de Juniac cautioned against efforts to turn back the clock on deregulation through consumer rights rules whose costs exceed their benefits, citing Canada’s Air Passenger Protection Regulations as an example.

The IATA chief also highlighted the need for more affordable infrastructure, pointing to capacity constraints from Bangkok to London as proof that an improvement is needed to help the air transport industry grow.

“If aviation is to grow its benefits, we must have adequate, affordable airport and air traffic infrastructure to support future demand,” added de Juniac.