$3.5 trillion economic impact

It’s not very far into 2009 and I’m already being asked what our outlook is for the year ahead. That’s a tough one to predict in any year, and this year is going to be tougher than most. It’s hard to say, for example, when we think our industry will return to its historical long-term growth rates.


Click above to go to the ATAG report.

As I’ve said before, there are more questions than answers right now in this challenging economy.

But one thing is clear. Aviation will continue to be vital. Air transport benefits the social and economic fabric of the world.

That’s not going to change, even as we work through this difficult downturn.

We’ve mentioned the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) here in the blog recently.

Toward the end of last year they published an informative updated report called “The economic and social benefits of air transport.” (1.2MB pdf)

The report found that:

  • The air transport industry generates 32 million jobs globally
  • The value of all goods transported by air represents 35% of all international trade
  • Aviation’s global economic impact is valued at more than $3.5 trillion, or 7.5% of the world’s total GDP
  • Aviation transports more than 2.2 billion passengers a year

The ATAG report offers a thorough analysis, pointing out that the industry’s most important economic contribution is “through its impact on the performance of other industries and as a facilitator of their growth.” For example, helping countries expand their access to international markets, enhancing tourism, and improving productivity by attracting investment and encouraging innovation in locations that have good air transport links.


Flights in progress video: Click on the image above for a truly global view - a 24-hour moving snapshot. Every day. each day, the world’s fleet of 19,000 aircraft, criss-crosses the world, carrying cargo, and connecting people, countries and economies.

Air transport also has social benefits. Delivering essential services and supplies to remote areas, and providing humanitarian assistance in the wake of natural disasters would be difficult without air transport.

The bottom line is, we’re in a difficult economic environment right now, and it’s affecting aviation as it is all other sectors. But our industry is - and will remain - crucial to just about everything that makes our world what it is today.

By the way, if you like our flights in progress video linked above, also click on the screensaver Star Alliance makes available on their site.

Comments (4)

RobLL (Chehalis WA 98532):

Your comments on the great contribution of civil aviation to our economy, and some specific statistics is quite useful.

There are some darker sides, which would be good to have Boeing (and Airbus, for that matter) to address. The free market seems to fail in the pricing of airfares. What I have read is that due to competition, value of an empty seat disappearing as the gate closes, the average income per ticket is about $15 below the cost of flying that seat.

Another question? Having bought a ticket and one of those good rates I find online, there is no doubt that I and most people I know would be happy to pay 15% more for 10-15% more leg room (or for some seat width). The airlines obviously would make out just a bit, same or more income for fewer passenger. My cynical view is that coach passengers must be made uncomfortable enough that business and richer people will buy the very expensive prices for front of the cabin seating.

Paulo M (Johannesburg, RSA):

Yeah! It's air transport and telecommunications that connects the world to a degree that is truly astonishing when compared to every year before Boeing built the 707, and before GPS, the internet and cellphone. And how these advances are now increasingly linked.

Congratulations on the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States of America. He brings with him a team of cleansheet ideas and will that will extensively modify and modernize a derivative product that still has great potential.

By the way, I know this probably is out of range for President Obama to use, but what do you think of the Presidential transportation requirements in the 21st Century.

Norman (Long Beach, California, United States):

Though the economy is tough, as long as planes are being used they will wear as they are used, this is in part why the Boeing 787 and in many ways the A350 has sold well and the fact that the next generation of airliners is more fuel efficient than the previous generation is another factor that has helped sale planes even when times are tough.

Unless Star Trek style molecular teleportation is invented which is not technically possible according to today's physicists, their will always be a need for aircraft for transport, commerce, touring and defence.

dBguy (seattle):

Love the flights in progress--graphic depiction of jet lag in the making. Airplanes crossing the Atlantic at roughly the same speed as the day-night terminator line, then the flow doubles back as soon as night falls. So that's how it works!

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