Leaders of ALTA called on the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to create a set of safety standards for airlines not eligible for the organisation's existing IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) programme.
Roberto Kriete, president of ALTA, says that, while accident rates in Latin America are declining, the fact that there is a subgroup of non-IOSA airlines, including those not eligible for the programme, with a rate four-times higher than IOSA member carriers is disturbing, during the opening session of the ALTA Airline Leaders Forum 2012 in Panama City.
He calls on Tony Tyler, director general of IATA, and others to create such a programme for carriers that are ineligible due to their size or the type of aircraft that they fly.
Tyler tells Airline Business that this is an issue around the world and that IATA is working to address the situation.
IATA is looking to collaborate with other organisations who have a focus on smaller aircraft regarding developing a comparable IOSA programme, says the organisation. IATA would then be able to validate and endorse this standard.
Speaking to Latin America's civil aviation authorities, Kriete says that countries should replicate the model set by Brazil, where IOSA participation is a requirement and not an option for airline certification.
ALTA has a goal of reducing the accident rate of member airlines to that of those in the USA by 2014.
Airport infrastructure and air traffic control are also concerns for ALTA. Kriete says that 30% of the airports in Latin America are "congested" and that the local aviation authorities have been slow to address capacity issues. He says that there are only 16 airport construction projects in the region while China, which also expects significant airline growth, has 94.
"The surroundings that airlines operate [in] is not always optimal for airline operations," he says.
Kriete says that air traffic control is still subject to gaps around the region and that many of the systems have not been upgraded with the latest technology.
Fuel costs, regulatory harmonisation, airport concessions and the environment are also concerns for the region's airlines looking forward, he says.
Latin American airlines have made significant strides during the past decade, despite these concerns. The number of city pairs connected to the rest of the world have increased to 953 from 687, low-cost carriers have boomed to about 50% of the market from a negligible market share, the average age of the fleet has decreased by more than four years and the region's carriers have grown considerably, says Kriete.