Aviation Benefits: a better future

In this, the second of a two-part series, we share excerpts from the Industry High-Level Group (IHLG) report, Aviation Benefits 2017

The availability of reliable air transport services provides people with access to what they need: decent livelihoods, food, healthcare, education, safe communities and spaces, etc. Aviation is by far the world’s safest and most efficient mode of long-range mass transportation. It provides the only possible means of transportation to provide health care to many remote communities, and it is a fast and reliable way to deliver urgent humanitarian aid during emergencies caused by natural disasters, famine and war.

Furthermore, educational opportunities are made available to students around the world, especially for those students from developing countries who must travel abroad for higher quality education. Aviation also contributes to improving quality of life by broadening travellers’ leisure and cultural experiences. It provides an affordable means to visit distant friends and relatives, and fosters awareness of other cultures.


The United Nations (UN) adopted the Transforming Our World: 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015. This agenda is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity, and seeks to strengthen universal peace in larger freedom. The world should aim to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets by 2030. Aviation contributes to achieving many of the SDGs directly and indirectly.

Attainment of the SDGs relies on advances in sustainable air transport, which is a driver of sustainable development. In accordance with the recommendation made by the UN Secretary General’s High-Level Advisory Group on Sustainable Transport, all stakeholders must make a genuine commitment to transforming the transport system in terms of individual travel and freight into one that is “safe, affordable, accessible, efficient, and resilient while minimizing carbon and other emissions and environmental impacts.”


By 2034, both air passenger traffic and air freight traffic are expected to more than double, compared to 2016. Passenger traffic is expected to reach over 14 trillion RPKs with a growth of 4.6 percent per annum, and freight will expand by 4.4 percent annually over the same time period, to 466 billion FTKs. This growth holds tremendous economic potential which will support all States in achieving the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In 2034, aviation will provide 99 million jobs and generate USD5.9 trillion in GDP, a 122 percent increase from 2014.

The future growth of air transport will likely depend on sustainable world economic and trade growth, as well as declining airline costs and ticket prices. Other factors, including regulatory regimes (such as liberalization of air transport), technological improvements and fuel costs will also impact future growth.

If traffic growth were to slow by just one percent annually, the total number of jobs supported by the air transport sector would diminish by over 10 percent (more than 10 million jobs) and the contribution of the air transport sector to world GDP would drop by some 12 percent (USD690 billion).

To encourage this projected growth in a sustainable manner and produce inclusive and productive development and employment, aviation must continue to develop coherent policies with tourism, trade and other transport sectors. A national or regional policy framework consistent with ICAO’s standards and policies, and with globally accepted good regulatory practices, can unlock the full value of aviation. New technologies and procedures should also be adopted to further improve connectivity and modernize infrastructure while minimizing any possible adverse impacts of this growth on the environment.


The Belt and Road initiative is a development strategy proposed by China that aims to promote the connectivity of Asian, European and African continents and their adjacent seas, plus establish and strengthen partnerships among over 65 countries. The identified countries jointly account for 62 percent and 30 percent of the world’s population and gross domestic product (GDP), respectively. In the next five years, China is estimated to invest up to USD150 billion in Belt and Road countries.

The initiative calls for the integration of the region into a cohesive economic area through building infrastructure, increasing culture exchanges, and broadening trade. On the basis of respecting each other’s sovereignty and security concerns, countries along the Belt and Road should improve the connectivity of their infrastructure construction plans and technical standard systems, jointly push forward the construction of international trunk passageways, and form an infrastructure network connecting all subregions in Asia, and between Asia, Europe and Africa, step by step.

Countries need to improve the region’s infrastructure, putting in place a secure and efficient network of land, sea and air passages, lifting their connectivity to a higher level and further enhancing trade and investment facilitation. For air transport, the initiative calls to expand and build platforms and mechanisms for comprehensive civil aviation cooperation, and quicken the pace in improving aviation infrastructure.


People living in rural and remote areas may face particular challenges. One of the biggest is healthcare. In Norway, where residents of rural towns benefit from Air Ambulance Services, a programme was put in place nearly 30 years ago to provide prompt and easy access to healthcare. With a budget of around 800 million Norwegian kroner (USD91 million) and 20,000 patients helped annually, this service allows remote areas in Norway to maintain their population and assure the urgent care of their medical needs. Source: luftambulansetjenesten


In Kenya, over 100,000 jobs (and 500,000 livelihoods) depend on the cut flower industry, which supports 1.6 percent of the national economy, generating around US$1 billion in foreign exchange each year. Horticulture is Kenya’s fastest growing sector and is ranked third after tourism and tea as a foreign exchange earner.

Over 90 percent of fresh horticultural products are transported by air freight. An estimated 70 percent of the flowers are grown at the rim of Lake Naivasha, northwest of Nairobi. There are good road network connections between the Lake Naivasha growing area and Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, a distance of about 80-100 kilometres. Flowers picked in the morning reach markets in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, by evening. Source: World Bank


The growth of air traffic depends on factors such as airfares, relative prices, real income, level of output, etc. Although there is not a clear understanding of how safety performance affects traffic demand, public safety reputation might affect travellers’ choice of destinations and airlines.

A potential impact of safety on traffic demand can be estimated using the econometric model, which uses an effective Implementation (EI) score measured by the ICAO Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme Continuous Monitoring Approach (USOAP-CMA) as a proxy to each State’s safety performance. With all other factors affecting traffic being constant, this hypothetical analysis suggests that 10 percent improvement of the EI of a State’s safety oversight system might generate on average an additional 1.8 percent of aircraft departures from the State concerned. Source: ICAO


The Industry High-Level Group (IHLG), established in 2013, is an initiative of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Secretary General, bringing together the heads of four industry organizations: the Airports Council International (ACI), the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO), the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the International Coordinating Council of Aerospace Industries Associations (ICCAIA). The IHLG is an informal group which considers matters of global significance to international civil aviation that can be better addressed in a collaborative arrangement between States and the industry rather than working individually on such matters.

The IHLG organizations have collaborated to provide a comprehensive view of the importance of aviation on supporting the global economy and generating social benefits through the prism of sustainable air transport solutions.

You can read the complete 68-page document, Aviation Benefits 2017, here.

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