Improving Efficiency of EU Airspace Could Yield €245 Billion Reward, IATA

IATA has released a new study projecting that Europe could gain 1 million jobs and get €245 billion boost in prosperity by 2035 from airspace modernization.

Today, the air travel sector supports 11.7 million European jobs and $860 billion of European GDP, IATA states. But IATA describes the sector as “inefficient.”

Because of systematic inefficiencies, the airline association says, flight distance is nearly 50 kilometers longer than it needs to be and flights run with an average delay of 10 minutes.

“This inefficiency negatively impacts prosperity, productivity and sustainability,” IATA states.

A study conducted by SEO Economic Research, and commissioned by IATA, these inefficiencies will cost the European economy €245 billion in 2035, if they are not addressed.

“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,” says Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

The Single European Sky (SES) project is intended to improve Air Traffic Management in Europe and would treble airspace capacity while improving safety by a factor of 10, reducing environmental impact by 10%, and cut costs by 50%.

However, SES has not progressed as hoped.

“Europe has failed in achieving the SES goals. Despite a strong European Commission vision and push for SES, national interests have prevailed,” says Tyler. “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 also says modernization and reform of EU airspace by 2035 would also benefit European tourism, trade, and the knowledge economy.

The airline association lists potential improvements:

1.3% more hotel beds to aid the tourism industry
2.2% faster expansion of trade in services
5.5% more patent applications
4.7% greater research spend
1.3% more employment in knowledge-intensive industries.

Tyler contrasts the EU’s nationally-based ATM of 38 separate provides with the US airspace governed by a single organization.

“If nothing is done, the problem will only get worse,” says Tyler.

IATA will call on consumer groups and business associations to support its call for more efficient air connectivity, raising awareness of the economy, productivity, and quality of life.

“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. EUR 245 billion is a worthy goal,” says Tyler.

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