IATA: Latin America could look to China’s example to solve congestion issue – ALTA

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Published: June 11, 2012

China and Latin America have a lot in common when it comes to growth rates and market potential in air transport terms, but are poles apart in one crucial area, says Alex de Gunten, executive director of ALTA, the association that represents Latin American and Caribbean carriers.

“There is one key difference between the two regions – unlike China, we don’t see government support for the industry [in Latin America] that we see here [in China] in terms of infrastructure,” he says.

While China ploughs ahead with an impressive airport building programme, countries in Latin America are “doing very little on new airports and new projects”.

“The issue of congested and over-saturated airports is right now one of the big threats we have in the region. One out of three flights operates out of a saturated airport. In Brazil, the top 14 airports will be congested by 2013,” says de Gunten.

“In this part of the world, air transport is really seen as an engine of development. Our region still has a lot to learn. What is going on is more of a patchwork of projects rather than long-term thinking,” he says.

ALTA’s mission is to “continue to do an educating job to our governments” about the importance of air transport to the region’s well-being, says de Gunten. “If aviation was a country in Latin America, it would be the eighth largest economy in the region.”

However, unlike regions like Europe, the growth prospects for Latin America look rosy for the coming few years. “At least the problems we have in the region are problems of growth – I would prefer to have it this way round,” says de Gunten.

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