Aviation supports $2.7trn in global economic activity, research says

Aviation contributes immensely to global economic growth by providing a worldwide transportation network, which makes it essential for global business and tourism. This important service it provides also ensures that millions have jobs. The global air transport sector supports 65.5 million jobs and $2.7 trillion in global economic activity, a new research by the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) showed.

The report, Aviation: Benefits Beyond Borders, which explores the fundamental role civil aviation plays for today’s society and addresses the economic, social and environmental impacts of this global industry, showed that the air transport industry provides 10.2 million direct jobs. Airlines, air navigation service providers and airports directly employ nearly 3.5 million people, and the civil aerospace sector, which manufactures aircraft
systems, frames and engines, employs 1.2 million people. A further 5.6 million people work in other on-airport positions. There are 10.8 million indirect jobs generated through the purchases of goods and services from companies in the air transport industry supply chain. Industry employees support 7.8 million induced jobs through
the spending of wages. Also, aviation-enabled tourism generates around 36.7 million jobs globally.

More than 410,000 people were directly employed in the African air transport industry in 2016. As Africa’s tourism industry also continues to grow due partly to the support of the aviation industry, more jobs are also being provided on the continent. An estimated 4.9 million people (directly and indirectly) are employed in areas supported by the steady influx of overseas visitors, most of whom arrive in the region by air. In addition, these arrivals by air supported an estimated $35.9 billion contribution to GDP in African economies in 2016. With air traffic in Africa averaging an annual growth rate of 4.9 percent over the 2016–2036 period, more jobs are expected to be provided by the industry.

Launching the report at the ATAG Global Sustainable Aviation Summit in Geneva, ATAG’s Executive Director, Michael Gill, said: “Let’s take a step back and think about how advances in air transport have changed the way people and businesses connect with each other – the reach we have today is extraordinary. More people in more parts of the world than ever before are taking advantage of safe, fast and efficient travel.”

More than 415,000 had aviation jobs in Africa in 2016
» 146,400 of them (35% of the total) were employed by airlines
or handling agents as, for example, flight crew, check-in
staff, maintenance crew, or head office staff;
» 33,200 (8%) had jobs with airport operators in, for example,
airport management, maintenance, and security;
» 192,800 (46.5%) worked on-site in airports at, for example,
retail outlets, restaurants, and hotels;
» 28,600 (7%) were employed in the manufacture of civil
aircraft (including systems, components, airframes, and
engines); and
» 14,500 (3.5%) worked for air navigation service providers
in, for example, air traffic control and engineering.

“There are over 10 million women and men working within the industry to make sure 120,000 flights and 12 million passengers a day are guided safely through their journeys. The wider supply chain, flow-on impacts and jobs in tourism made possible by air transport show that at least 65.5 million jobs and 3.6% of global economic activity are supported by our industry.”

The report also looks at two future scenarios for growth in air traffic and related jobs and economic benefits. With an open, free-trade approach, the growth in air transport will support some 97.8 million jobs and $5.7 trillion in economic activity in 2036. However, if governments create a more fragmented world with isolationism and protectionist policies, over 12 million fewer jobs and $1.2 trillion less in economic activity would be supported by air transport.

“By working with one another, learning from each other’s cultures and trading openly, we not only create a stronger economic outlook, but we also continue the conditions for peaceful interaction across the globe. Aviation is the key driver for this positive connectivity.”


Speaking about the release of the new report, the Director General of Airports Council International, Angela Gittens, said: “Airports are crucial links in the air transport value chain that drive economic and social benefits for the local, regional, and national communities they serve. Airports act as catalysts for employment, innovation, and improved global connectivity and trade. In responding to the growing global demand for air services, airports – in partnership with the wider aviation community – are also taking a lead role in minimising and mitigating the environmental effects of aviation and pursuing sustainable development”.

Alexandre de Juniac, Director General and CEO of the International Air Transport Association , said: “Airlines empower people’s lives and turbo-charge the global economy through a worldwide network that safely carries more than 4 billion passengers and 62 million tonnes of freight each year. In challenging political, economic and environmental times, the ability of aviation – the business of freedom – to sustainably connect cultures and spread prosperity beyond borders has never been more important.”

Also published on Medium.