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  August 8th, 2016 | Written by

Aviation: Supporting Jobs, Economic Growth, and Sustainable Development

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  • Air transport plays a major role in social development.
  • 35 percent of international trade by value travels by air.
  • Air transport supports 14 of the UN's 17 sustainable development goals.

Aviation is vital to the modern, globalized world, supporting millions of jobs and driving economic growth. But the benefits of connectivity must be protected with appropriate support from governments if the air transport sector is to fulfill its potential as a connector of people, trade, and tourism and a driver of sustainable development.

These are the conclusions drawn in a new report, “Aviation: Benefits Beyond Borders,” released by the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG).

Worldwide, aviation supports 62.7 million jobs and generates $2.7 trillion in gross domestic product (GDP). Air transport also plays a major role in the social development of communities all over the globe, allowing people to travel for educational opportunities and cultural exchange. Fifty-four percent of all international tourists and 35 percent of international trade by value travels by air.

ATAG executive director, Michael Gill, says that the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the United Nations highlights a number of goals that the international community should strive to achieve by 2030. “We found that air transport in some way supports 14 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, from decent work and economic growth to quality education and reduced inequalities,” he said. “By continuing to grow in a sustainable manner, aviation can strive to be a force for good for many years to come.”

The report forecasts that in the next 20 years, aviation-supported jobs worldwide will increase to over 99 million and the industry’s GDP impact to $5.9 trillion. The highest forecast growth will be in regions with fast-developing aviation sectors, such as Africa, the Middle East, and Asia-Pacific.

However, this growth will depend on governments supporting aviation, particularly with efficiency measures such as airspace modernization, infrastructure development, capacity improvements, and the continued liberalization of the sector—a factor which has delivered a substantial reduction in airfares and access to air transport in those regions that have embraced it.

“A significant factor in our work on sustainable development is the industry’s world-leading climate action plan,” said Gill. “We need support from governments around the world to agree on a key part of that plan. It is a vital part of our industry’s future role in helping to support development worldwide.”