By Patrick Appleton
Panama’s government must work with the air transport industry to address the challenges facing the sector in the country, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said.
Speaking at Panama Aviation Day, Peter Cerda, IATA’s Regional Vice President for the Americas said collaboration between industry and state is the way forward to find the solutions needed.
Referencing the growing demand for air connectivity in the Central American nation, Cerda said addressing the issues of airspace optimization, the expansion of Tocumen International Airport and reducing environmental impact are key for the industry’s sustainable growth in Panama.
Although it has become one of the most important hubs in the Americas, other competitors in the region are catching up. Panama cannot rest on its laurels
“The success of commercial aviation in Panama over the next 20 years largely depends on taking the necessary decisions on infrastructure, taxes, regulations and competitiveness today,” said Cerda.
“This requires a joint commitment between the state and all of us who are part of the value chain of the aviation industry.”
Tocumen International Airport serves almost 90 direct passenger and cargo destinations, making Panama the country with best air connectivity in Latin America.
According to IATA’s latest economic study, air transport contributes, directly and indirectly, $8.5 billion to the Panamanian economy, which is equivalent to 14% of the country’s GDP, and generates 238,000 direct and indirect jobs.
Cerda said that Panama must view the aviation industry as an important strategic partner which can boost the economy.
IATA analysis warns that proposed taxes could see aviation’s economic contribution fall by $6 billion with the loss of 170,000 jobs.
“Panama provides a clear example of how air transport can be developed to become the cornerstone of a nation’s economy,” added Cerda.
“However, the country is today at a crossroads. Although it has created the conditions to become one of the most important hubs in the Americas, other competitors in the region are catching up. Panama cannot rest on its laurels and lose what it has achieved.”
Panama Aviation Day was organized by IATA, the Panama Airlines Association, the Latin American and Caribbean Air Transport Association, Airports Council International and the Civil Aviation Authority.