Printed headline: Contemplation Before Regulation
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) annual review, published in conjunction with its 74th Annual General Meeting held in Sydney in June, cites “creeping reregulation” and nonadherence to agreed-upon global standards as the top challenges to the continued growth of global connectivity.
At the annual event, IATA Director General Alexandre de Juniac underlined the industry’s pursuance of “smart regulation”—that is, rules that further clearly defined, measurable policy objectives in the least burdensome way. Similar thinking, he said, guided 1970s-era reforms in the U.S. that changed the industry: “Competition saw the price of air connectivity fall, making air transport much more accessible. In 1978, the average person flew once every 6.6 years. Today, the average is closer to once in two years.”
De Juniac criticized efforts to over-regulate passenger compensation and seat assignments and praised recent regulatory reform initiatives in the U.S. aimed at “keeping only those [regulations] where the benefits outweigh the costs to both travelers and the industry.” (Last fall, an FAA-industry committee submitted a list of regulations it recommended be considered for repeal. The report was offered in response to the Trump administration’s “two for one” directive, which requires two regulatory repeal recommendations to accompany every new “significant” regulatory proposal.)
The IATA executive also called for governments to better implement global standards they helped to create, citing benefits gained by universal acceptance of ticketing mechanisms and real-time baggage tracking. De Juniac pointed to the proliferation of state-adopted special operating requirements on top of global, agreed-upon standards. He also pointed to states’ failure to complete accident investigations as required by the Chicago Convention, citing the statistic that in the last 10 years final reports were published for only 30% of all reported accidents.
IATA’s annual report reiterates that 2017 was the biggest year yet in terms of persons traveling and touts flight’s growing accessibility, given that 2017 airfares (in today’s dollars) are less than half what they were in 1995.