IATA is working with local airline association ALTA and airport grouping ACI on a campaign to highlight airport infrastructure challenges in Latin America.

“Airlines are willing and able to grow. The challenge is the vast majority of airports are saturated with antiquated infrastructure,” said IATA, vice president Americas, Peter Cerda, speaking at the Strategy Summit at Routes Americas in Denver

Both Cerda and an earlier speaker, former deputy assistant secretary of state John Byerly, cite a recent a World Economic Forum survey on the quality of air transport infrastructure. While Panama and Barbados rank among the top 10 countries, they both point to the relatively low-ranking of others in the region – notably Colombia, Argentina and Brazil which all rank outside the top 100 countries.

Cerda points to plans for a new airport in Mexico City. While welcoming the development, he says this is arriving 15 years to loo late. “We will get the airport but we could have done a lot better. And Mexico City is not in the minority, it is the norm,” says Cerda.

The joint project with ALTA, IATA and ACI involves the commissioning of a report by Oxford Economics to outline the benefits of developing airport infrastructure.

“These studies are not for airlines to fight with airports…but to work together. Our governments have very little understanding of our industry,” he says.

“In Latin America what has changed are the regional carriers. They are not hesitant to challenge the governments. This is very different from the landscape 15 years ago. The local carriers are really driving it [development],” he says.

He points to projections of a doubling of the Latin American market by 2030. “If we want to meet this demand, we have to start on it now. We have a double job, meeting the need for 2013 and getting out of the hole it’s in today.

Source: Cirium Dashboard