In his State of American Business speech U.S. Chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue noted that aviation was an important part of “making America’s infrastructure the best in the world.”
Ahead of the 16th U.S. Chamber Aviation Summit on Thursday, let’s take a brief look at the state of American aviation and what policies are needed to support it.
Like a carbon fiber wing, the state of American aviation is strong.
Airlines as a business are healthy. In 2016, the number of domestic passengers increased by a little more than 3%. There’s plenty of confidence in the industry. A Gallup poll found the airline industry has its highest positive rating in 15 years. What’s more, the top four domestic airlines generating reliable profits has attracted America’s most-famous investor, Warren Buffett.
Air cargo is also healthy. Domestic air freight increased by 3.75% in 2016—its biggest gain since 2010.
There’s also strength in aircraft manufacturing. Through complex, job-supporting global supply chains, Boeing delivered 748 planes in 2016, and Airbus opened their first U.S. factory in Mobile, Ala. in 2016.
American aviation is also stretching beyond our atmosphere with private sector companies innovating and pushing the boundaries of space travel. The United Launch Alliance regularly launches satellites for NASA and the U.S. military, and Elon Musk’s SpaceX supplies the International Space Station white striving for a bigger goal: Mars.
There’s much that policymakers can do to support the continued health of this vibrant, innovative industry.
Airports are a key component to our infrastructure, so investing in improvements and modernizing the roads connecting them with cities and communities will ease the movement of both passengers and cargo. Any infrastructure-improvement legislation should include improving air travel.
In addition, later this year, Congress will need to pass legislation reauthorizing the FAA. This legislation needs to continue work toward a modernized Air Traffic Control System, and it should continue to grow Airport Improvement Program investment to meet infrastructure needs.
Doing these things will make air transportation more reliable, safe, and secure, and it will ensure that aviation continues lift our economy into the future.