Rafael Schvartzman, IATA’s Regional Vice President for Europe reveals a competitiveness toolkit to enhance aviation’s benefits throughout the region.

The competitiveness of the European economy is a topic that is rising fast up the agenda in our region, and creating a competitive environment for aviation to flourish is essential to the future prosperity of Europe.

To assist governments to take the right decisions, IATA is undertaking an important project to provide a competitiveness toolkit to governments.

The toolkit provides national-level analysis focusing on four key elements of competitiveness: infrastructure, costs, smart regulation, and border processes.

Air traffic management delays are not just a problem in Spain. Across Europe, in 2018 they have doubled compared with the previous year

The creation of the first Competitiveness Analysis, for Spain, was well timed to fit with our first ever Wings of Change Europe conference, which we held in Madrid in November.

For Spain, the key issues are air traffic management, airport capacity and cost, and fostering intermodal connectivity.

Air traffic management delays are not just a problem in Spain. Across Europe, in 2018 they have doubled compared with the previous year.  

And they are set to multiply unless we take urgent action. Staffing issues in France and Germany, and bottlenecks in 
the system, have caused misery for passengers, tremendous problems for airlines, and have a direct negative impact on Europe’s economy.

Progress on the Single European Sky (SES) remains negligible, which is why IATA has been working with a number of European nations on a bottom-up approach to airspace optimization. Through the development of National Airspace Strategies (NAS), created with airline and other key stakeholder input, air navigation service providers will set out investment plans and reforms to create the efficient, safe, and cost-effective airspace capacity we need. And each NAS will put in place part of the SES jigsaw.

Poland is the first state to finalize its airspace strategy, which was published at Wings of Change, and we are well advanced with Italy, France, Spain and Bulgaria, with more states to follow.  

It’s no surprise that infrastructure capacity and cost is near the top of the list for Spain, for this is something we also see consistently across Europe. IATA’s 20-year passenger forecast expects European passenger numbers to grow 50% by 2037.

That means an extra 611 million passengers that will be passing through airport infrastructure that is already bursting at the seams. Ensuring that we build sufficient capacity while keeping costs under control is one of the key challenges we face.

And with Spain investing so much in its high-speed rail network, it doesn’t make sense not to link Madrid and Barcelona’s airports to this network, to promote intermodal connectivity.

Wings of Change Europe gave us a fantastic platform to get these messages and more across to our most important industry partners and political stakeholders. And in 2019 we will further sharpen our focus on helping governments improve the competitiveness of their aviation sector.

We’re determined to ensure that every European nation has a clear roadmap to increase the benefits aviation brings to their citizens.