The strength of the global economy is always a major factor. Our members have some expectation the overall economic situation is getting better. But with some big caveats. Europe has got to find a sustainable path out of its sovereign debt crisis. The U.S. needs to move away from the fiscal cliff. We are hopeful that the tensions in the Middle East will not boil over into something much larger. And there is an expectation that the new leadership in China will pump up economic growth to establish their credibility, but there is no announced plan.
What can airlines globally do about operating costs?
Unfortunately, there is not a lot airlines can do in the near term about the price of oil or jet fuel. The focus is on being as efficient as possible, to minimize waste, which has a corresponding benefit for the environment in terms of reduced CO2 emissions.
But we also need our infrastructure partners to move forward on efficiency enhancements such as Single European Sky, FAA's NextGen and the Seamless Asian Sky. Europe's inability to create the SES is particularly frustrating given how many years they have been working on it and what it would represent in terms of efficiency and the environment.
There are huge capacity and efficiency opportunities associated with the introduction of performance-based navigation, but again, we need the cooperation of infrastructure providers to accelerate their introduction. Over the long term, biofuels will provide not just a way to help achieve sustainable growth, but also to create a viable alternative to fossil fuels. But we need governments to step up to create the conditions that will lead to the development of a large-scale sustainable aviation biofuels industry.
Can ICAO reach a global agreement on emissions trading?
The European Commission's pragmatic decision to “stop the clock” on implementation of the EU ETS [Emissions Trading System] recognizes the technical progress on market-based measures being made at ICAO [International Civil Aviation Organization] and creates an opportunity for a global agreement. However, the EU decision also puts pressure on the industry to find a common position on sharing the burden among airlines.
IATA's job—and it will be a challenging one—is to help facilitate the fairest possible compromise.
Tony Tyler is director general and CEO of the International Air Transport Association, which represents some 240 airlines globally at a time when the barely profitable industry is challenged by economic conditions, high fuel prices, rising environmental concerns, and vexing security and taxation issues. Senior Editor Graham Warwick reports.