Peter Cerda, IATA’s Regional Vice President for the Americas, believes that Latin America has all the necessary elements to become an aviation success story.
But many of the region’s governments are not treating air carriers as partners that drive valuable social and economic development.
A lack of infrastructure development could curtail the benefits of air connectivity
At a press briefing in advance of the 73rd IATA AGM, Cerda said that air transport generates $167 billion in GDP in the region and supports in excess of 5 million jobs.
Competitive and efficient airlines, a growing middle class, favorable demographics, and a geography that necessitates travel by air will all contribute to air traffic doubling in the region by 2034.
However, a lack of infrastructure development and a failure to adhere to smarter regulation principles could curtail the benefits of air connectivity and leave $42 billion of unrealized economic benefits on the table.
Jorge Chávez International Airport in Lima, Peru is bulging at the seams, for example. A terminal designed for 10 million passengers per year is handling 17 million passengers.
And in Argentina, archaic air traffic management in Buenos Aires and the surrounding area is causing unnecessary delays.
“It is a government responsibility to provide infrastructure,” said Cerda.
“For airlines to play their vital role of linking communities and economies globally, governments need to play their part—ensuring sufficient capacity, quality alignment with airline needs, and affordable costs.”
Meanwhile, Brazil is one of the regional examples where unorthodox regulation has stymied the growth of the air industry.
The goal of all regulation should be to achieve clearly defined, measurable policy objectives
An idiosyncratic fuel policy adds $660 million to the airline bill every year and rules punish carriers for delays and cancellations outside of their control.
“The goal of all regulation should be to achieve clearly defined, measurable policy objectives that can be adhered to in the least burdensome manner possible,” said Cerda.
“And any regulatory framework benefits from a transparent and objective consultative process between governments and industry.”