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The International Air Transport Association, the worldwide trade association for airlines, issued the following demands at its summit in Istanbul this week.

  • Governments must eliminate archaic rules that prevent airlines from restructuring across borders.
  • In view of existing fees and charges, governments must refrain from imposing multiple and additional punitive taxes and other measures that will only deepen the crisis.
  • State service providers must invest to modernise air transport infrastructure urgently, eliminating wasteful fuel consumption and emissions.
  • Business partners, in particular monopoly service providers, must become as efficient as airlines are now.  If not, regulators must restrain their appetite with tougher regulation.
  • Labour unions must refrain from making irresponsible claims and join the effort to secure jobs in aviation and indeed in other industries.
  • In the interest of the global economy and the flying public, we urge authorities to enforce the integrity of markets so that the cost of energy reflects its true value.

To which Brett Snyder responds:

Ok, so let me get this straight. In point 1 the argument is against regulation but points 4 and 6 want more regulation. Point 2 wants fewer fees charged, but point 3 wants more to be invested in infrastructure. It’s a bit confusing.

But points 5 and 6 have to be my favorites. I mean, come on. You’re going to wag your finger and tell labor unions that they should lighten up? Even more unlikely to have an impact, you think governments should step in and fix energy prices?!? Might as well just wish for world peace.

It’s important to keep in mind that IATA is a trade association — that is, a lobbying group. Every industry has one (except for the necktie industry, whose trade group closed down this week). And a lobbyist’s job is to promote his industry’s interests. Whether or not it’s sound policy –or even logical — it’s in airlines’ interests to have fewer limitations on foreign ownership, lower taxes, better airport and air traffic control facilities at lower cost, cheap labor, and cheap oil. For a lobbyist, policy coherence takes a back seat to getting your client’s way.

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