The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has released a study projecting a one million job and 245 billion euro boost to European prosperity in 2035 from airspace modernisation.
IATA says Europe is well-served by air connectivity, which today supports 11.7 million European jobs and $860 billion of European gross domestic product (GDP), but says it is inefficient with average flights are nearly 50 kilometres longer than they need to be in terms of distance traveled and delays average around 10 minutes per flight.
This inefficiency negatively impacts prosperity, productivity and sustainability, IATA says and a study it commissioned by SEO Economic Research estimates these inefficiencies, if unchecked, will grow to cost the European economy 245 billion euros in 2035.
IATA’s director general and chief executive officer, Tony Tyler says: “Air traffic management inefficiency is not just a burden for airlines. Travelers suffer wasted time from delays. The environment suffers from avoidable emissions. And businesses face reduced productivity. Combined, all of this has a cost on Europe’s competitiveness. And the cost is shared broadly. This study shows that every European—individual or business—has a stake in this issue.”
Europe has long had a plan to improve its air traffic management – the Single European Sky (SES) project, which aims to deliver a threefold increase in capacity, improve safety by a factor of 10, reduce environmental impact by 10 per cent, and cut costs by 50 per cent.
Tyler adds: “Europe has failed in achieving the SES goals. Despite a strong European Commission vision and push for SES, national interests have prevailed. The incentive to improve efficiency is to make Europe more prosperous with the realization of 245 billion euros and one million jobs in 2035. The launch of this study is a call to action across the spectrum of business and individual interests in Europe to help deliver a stronger, more connected economy.”
IATA says a fully modernised and reformed airspace in 2035 (compared to a “do nothing” scenario in which the status quo prevails) will generate tangible benefits to European tourism, trade and the knowledge economy. Examples of incremental and indicative improvements including up to 2.2 per cent faster expansion of trade in services.
Tyler continues: “Predicting the future is always fraught with uncertainty. But the starting point already shows a clear gap. The US has one provider to manage its airspace and Europe has 38 providers to manage a similarly complex air transport sector. And if nothing is done, the problem will only get worse.”
The release of the study marks the launch of a Europe-wide campaign. IATA will be calling on consumer groups and business associations to recognize the broad importance of efficient air connectivity to the economy, productivity and quality of life at the national level.
“Quantifying the value of what we are aiming for in jobs and GDP should be a great motivator in aligning national policies and action with a vision for an efficiently-connected and competitive Europe. 245 billion euros is a worthy goal!” concludes Tyler.