Over the past several months, I have heard a lot of talk from airline and aviation labor leaders about the support other countries contribute to the success of their national airlines. These arguments are used to buttress the campaign to enact a National “Airline” Policy. My counter-argument (we are pushing for a National “Aviation” Policy) has been that these nations and their airlines succeed in the global transport network not only because they have policies that encourage a growing role for aviation, but because – and largely because – they have invested in aviation infrastructure. Anyone who has ever traveled to, or through, Singapore, Hong Kong, Incheon, Doha, Abu Dhabi or Dubai can see that very plainly. (See related Centerlines Blog from the Dubai presentation at our Customer Service Seminar last week in Florida.)
I have pointed this out continually, and have also pointed out that these places – and others – use a passenger user fee similar to the American PFC or Canadian AIF to generate revenue. It is not some sheikh or government just writing a check and printing money as some might have you believe.
This is done because leaders (government and business) in those places are looking to the future. They are not building for yesterday’s traffic or yesterday’s customer or yesterday’s economy. They are building for tomorrow. They are shaping their future.
While the governmental systems in most of these places are not ones I would want to emulate, I do applaud their vision, and especially applaud their recognition that modern airport infrastructure, airfield and landside, is critical.
Because I run the airport trade association my words are dismissed by some. But listen to the words of one of the world’s great aviation leaders: “Aviation’s importance as a catalyst for growth is well-understood in the Middle East and particularly in the Gulf region, where airports rise ahead of the demand curve, not behind it.”
Who said this? Some airport director? Some airport association leader? No, it was Tony Tyler, Director General and CEO of IATA, the International Air Transport Association — the worldwide voice of airlines. IATA has been a leader in moving toward a modern system to develop airport infrastructure and Tony, in his current role and in his previous role at Cathay Pacific, understands that.
I agree with Tony and with so many airline leaders around the world who see things the same way. I remain hopeful that we can work with America’s airlines to build a better future for our passengers; one that helps airlines grow profitably into the future and allows communities the ability to prosper in the 21st century economy.