On the 1st of June, I became the Executive Director and CEO of ALTA, the Latin American and Caribbean Air Transport Association, in the midst of the worst crisis in the history of aviation.
My immediate priority was to support the viability of our members during this crisis and support Latin American and Caribbean authorities in the timely, coordinated implementation of efficient protocols for safely reactivating air transport.
Each aviation job generates four more jobs and, together with travel and tourism, generates almost 17 million jobs in the region.
We are facing an enormous challenge which we can only overcome through collaboration and working together in a coordinated way.
Aviation in this region has enjoyed uninterrupted growth for the last 16 years with considerable improvements in connectivity between our countries. In 2019, more than 300 million passengers were transported in the region and the expectations for 2020 were to reach around 5% growth.
However, the operating restrictions and border closures hit the industry hard. When we can operate again, the airlines will return with reduced capacity, less routes, lower frequencies, less aircraft and less passengers. This translates into less connectivity for the region and a smaller industry, comparable to the aviation we had in 2009, which can certainly create some inconveniences in logistic chains and tourism that directly depend on air transport.
The travel-tourism sector comprises 8.1% of the region’s GDP and in some countries like Mexico and the Caribbean exceeds 15%. Each aviation job generates four more jobs and, together with travel and tourism, generates almost 17 million jobs in the region. This is an engine that fuels our economies and an industry that will play a fundamental role in the economic recovery of our countries.
For 2020, the region is estimated to operate at less than 50% of the planned capacity, and recovery of both capacity and demand will take time. Studies indicate that even until 2025 we will see 2019 passenger traffic levels.
Therefore, we reiterate the importance and urgency that authorities and industry work together in a coordinated way to implement robust economic support measures that permit the sustainability of the sector’s many companies that generate millions of jobs, and in the coordinated implementation of health protocols to restart operations in a safe, timely way that gains passengers’ trust.
Connectivity in the region brings opportunities to even the most remote areas. In this continental region where alternatives like trains are not an option, it is urgent to safeguard a means of transportation that is indispensable for the population. The industry is ready to start operating again, always complying with the strictest health and safety protocols in order to continue providing an essential service.
We have a long road ahead, but it starts with a strong first step. In the words of Winston Churchill: “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” We’re in this together.