Published on : Wednesday, September 11, 2019
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) today called on the Government of Panamá to work with the air transport industry to address the challenges and find joint solutions in order to meet the growing demand for air connectivity in the country and hence supporting its continued economic development.
Speaking at the opening of the Panamá Aviation Day – organized by IATA, the Panamá Airlines Association (ALAP), the Latin American and Caribbean Air Transport Association (ALTA), the International Airports Council (ACI) and the Civil Aviation Authority (AAC) – Peter Cerdá, IATA Regional Vice President for the Americas, highlighted the challenges which need to be addressed:
Airspace Optimization: The government needs to actively support the optimization of the airspace which will permit operations at Panamá’s Tocumen International Airport to increase from the current 35 to 40 movements per hour to around 70. This will alleviate the current congestion, increase the punctuality of aircraft operations and reduce the industry’s carbon footprint.
Tocumen Expansion: The expansion of Tocumen International Airport is essential if Panamá wants to maintain its competitiveness as an aviation hub. The government needs to ensure the necessary land acquisition to allow for the construction of the third runway. Moreover, the urban growth in the vicinity of the airport must be well managed and planned, so it does not impede the airport’s expansion.
Accept the aviation industry as a strategic ally: The state should view the aviation industry as an ally and avoid establishing a tax burden which will jeopardize the competitiveness of Panamá as a hub. The legislative initiative to tax passengers connecting through Panamá will harm the airport’s competitiveness, especially since the other main hubs in the region like Bogotá, Lima or Mexico are not levying such a charge. Imposition of the proposed tax could reduce aviation’s current economic contribution from US$ 8.5 billion to US$ 2.4 billion and reduce supported employment from 238,000 to 67,000.
Reduction in Environmental Impact: The Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) will stop our industry’s carbon footprint from growing. Our next goal is cutting net emissions to half 2005 levels by 2050. Airlines are investing in efficiency measures to achieve this—including new aircraft, better procedures and making forward buying commitments for sustainable aviation fuels. Governments will need to align their policy actions to support this. The government of Panama is already implementing CORSIA and we need it to sort out inefficiencies in air traffic management and create the environment for the commercialization of sustainable aviation fuels.
“The success of commercial aviation in Panamá over the next 20 years largely depends on taking the necessary decisions on infrastructure, taxes, regulations and competitiveness today. This requires a joint commitment between the state and all of us who are part of the value chain of the aviation industry,” said Cerdá.
With no less than 89 direct passenger and cargo destinations being served from Tocumen International Airport, Panamá is the country with the best air connectivity in Latin America. The number of travelers is expected to double over the next two decades and hence the country finds itself at a juncture where it must decide which path to take, in order to harness the economic and social benefits of aviation.
“Air connectivity, enhanced by a government which recognizes its benefits, has up to now been one of the main drivers of development of Panamá, boosting tourism, attracting regional headquarters of multinational companies and fostering trade, logistics and foreign investment in the country,” Cerdá continued.
According to IATA’s latest economic study, air transport contributes, directly and indirectly, some US$ 8.5 billion to the Panamanian economy, which is equivalent to 14% of the country’s GDP, and generates some 238,000 direct and indirect jobs.
“Panamá provides a clear example of how air transport can be developed to become the cornerstone of a nation’s economy. However, the country is today at a crossroads. Although it has created the conditions to become one of the most important hubs in the Americas, it currently has other competitors in the region which are catching up. This means that Panamá cannot rest on its laurels and lose what it has achieved,” Cerdá concluded.