IATA Still Wary of Protectionism After Positive Meeting with US Officials

Airline industry group IATA said it remains concerned about protectionist rhetoric from the United States and other governments, but also sees the new U.S. administration’s plans to invest in infrastructure as positive for the industry.

IATA’s Director General Alexandre de Juniac told reporters in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday that the group had recently held a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, which he described as “positive”. However, he also said the group was “heavily concerned” about plans by governments “to raise barriers on borders for trade and for travel.”

He did not say when the meeting took place.

“It was the opportunity for us to meet the new administration, to express our view and to understand what the new administration had in mind for aviation,” de Juniac said, adding that U.S. plans looked positive in terms of investment in infrastructure and regulation.

IATA and its members were critical of President Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order that blocked refugees and nationals of seven Muslim majority countries from traveling to the United States.

Many in the industry have said the ban was rolled out haphazardly without clear communication, causing chaos and confusion at airports globally. The Trump administration’s revised travel ban is due to come into effect on Thursday.

As well as in the United States, IATA is still concerned about “significant” protectionist rhetoric in Europe and other parts of the world, although it would take time before protectionist measures are felt in the industry, De Juniac said.

This year has started off better than expected, he said.

Passenger demand reached a five-year high in January.

However, IATA said in December that it expects profit in the airline industry to fall this year after a five-year rally and de Juniac said that view remained unchanged.

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