Chile took the top spot in a new aviation competitiveness index published by Latin American industry association ALTA and technology solutions company Amadeus.

Chile took the top spot in a new aviation competitiveness index published by Latin American industry association ALTA and technology solutions company Amadeus.

The "Aviation Industry Competitive Index in Latin America", published on 29 October, aims “to identify and analyse the different factors and conditions that affect the development of air operations” in eight Latin American countries.

“The countries analysed are going through different moments of growth, but are aimed at achieving it,” the report concludes. “There is a growing awareness on the part of governments of the importance of strengthening the aviation industry because of the benefits it brings to countries and the opportunities it generates.”

An increasingly wealthy middle class coupled with new entrants and network expansions in what is often considered an underserved air travel market demands greater investment across a host of categories.

The six criteria for which each country received a rating between 0 and 100 included: infrastructure, taxes and fees, the facilitation of processes for passengers within airports, the release and opening of air transport, the willingness of citizens of a country to travel, and technology and digitisation. Each country then received an overall score.

Chile landed on the top spot with an overall rating of 82 points out of a possible 100. The country had the highest scores in the categories of “technology”, “taxes and fees”, and “propensity to travel”.

“It’s no surprise that Chile comes out on top, despite all the challenges” the country currently faces, says Julia Sattel, president of airlines at Amadeus. A strong national airline like LATAM is a clear driver of modernisation efforts in the face of current national unrest, she adds.

In the past weeks, violent protests in Chile have led to hundreds of flight cancellations and several deaths.

Panama took second place with a total score of 75, and led the group in the “infrastructure” category. Brazil took third place with a total of 71 points, but achieved a perfect score of 100 in the category “facilitation”.

Columbia, Mexico and Peru landed in the middle of the pack, with Argentina and Bolivia rounding out the bottom of the list, with totals of 57 and 44 points, respectively. Both countries scored less than 50 points in the “infrastructure” category – 45 for Argentina and 26 for Bolivia - which pulled their ratings down.

Six of the eight countries studied scored more than 75 points on “technology and infrastructure,” indicating that digital transformation is no longer just a catchword for the Latin American aviation industry. Governments and airlines are keenly aware that increased investment in technology networks directly correlates to ease and efficiency of passenger movement and higher rates of travel. In addition, a healthy aviation industry is an important economic stimulus and a job machine.

Executives at this week’s ALTA Airline Leaders Forum meeting in the Brazilian capital of Brasilia repeatedly emphasised Latin America is still far behind other continents in terms of air transportation, with an annual average of 0.4 flights per capita, as opposed to 2.2 flights per capita in Europe, and has great growth potential to transform the continent.

“It can grow five to six times, and Latin America could represent 8-10% of worldwide travel,” Amadeus’ Sattel adds. “It is a great opportunity for airlines and countries to open up. As technology providers we need to make travel seamless for the user so that people will choose air transport, and that the airlines have the environment and liberalisation to do their business without disturbance,” she says.

The report’s authors conclude that in order to compete on the global market, the region must make a commitment to continue improving in all of the categories in order to support a more-efficient aviation sector.

“Improving infrastructure is the first step in developing the industry and ensuring that the traveller's experience is successful, followed by the implementation of new technologies and innovation, which will ensure that the processes are fulfilled in the best way and will help ensure unique communications,” the report says. “Reducing taxes and fees will increase the flow of passengers and operational improvements will reduce waiting times and traffic jams at the terminals.”