IATA panel calls for greater airport/airline cooperation on infrastructure

MIAMI, June 12 - At the IATA AGM this week, a panel considered how best to tackle the demands that an expected doubling of annual passenger numbers to 7.3 billion by 2034 will place on aviation infrastructure. With facilities in some areas of the world already creaking under current demand, and the long lead-time required for infrastructure improvement, this growth forecast poses an urgent and immediate problem.

The panel, chaired by Star Alliance CEO Mark Schwab, looked at how airlines and airports could work together to ensure that cost-efficient infrastructure was available at the right time and in the right place.

“I see this as one of the most urgent items on our collective agenda and I am convinced that the real solution can only lie in a fundamental and collective change in our approach how we plan, build and run our businesses," Schwab said in his introductory remarks.

The panel included a mix of airline executives – Aeromexico CEO Andres Conesa and Cathay Pacific CEO Chu Kwok Leung – and representatives from airport and aviation authorities – Director of Miami-Dade aviation department Emilio Gonzalez; FAA Administrator Michael Huerta; and the outgoing CEO of NATS Richard Deakin.

The geographic mix of participants allowed each to raise specific regional and operational requirements, as well as local barriers to cooperation. Yet the overriding message was clear: that greater cooperation would be needed at a much earlier stage than in the past, with new technologies helping drive innovation. This would avoid investment being made in the “wrong" locations, which brought no real economic return for the airlines who would nonetheless be required to help pay for it.

The full video of the panel discussion can be seen here.

-- Markus Ruediger