(Adds quotes by de Juniac on investment, travel ban)
By Alexander Cornwell
ABU DHABI, March 14 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 Director General Alexandre de Juniac told Reuters in
Abu Dhabi on Tuesday that he met U.S. Transportation Secretary
Elaine Chao in Washington D.C. on March 2.
He described the meeting to reporters as "positive", but
said that IATA was also "heavily concerned" about plans by
governments, including the United States, "to raise barriers on
borders for trade and for travel".
"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.
U.S. President Donald Trump, who met aviation executives
last month, proposed during his campaign to spend $1 trillion
over a decade to upgrade the country's infrastructure.
"The plan to invest in infrastructure especially in airports
is a good plan because there are some difficulties and
weaknesses in the airline infrastructure in the U.S.," de
Juniac told Reuters.
IATA and its members were critical of Trump's Jan. 27
executive order that blocked refugees and nationals of seven
Muslim majority countries from travelling to the United States,
and many in the industry said it caused chaos and confusion.
The Trump administration's revised travel ban is due to come
into effect on Thursday.
De Juniac said U.S. officials had coordinated the second
travel order with stakeholders, unlike the initial ban which
came into immediate effect without notice.
IATA has not seen a significant impact on demand for travel
to and from the U.S. as a result of ban, although data for
February is still being gathered, de Juniac said.
Last week, Emirates President Tim Clark said bookings to and
from the U.S. dropped 35 percent overnight after the January
order. Others in the industry have also said demand has declined
on U.S. routes.
Overall, IATA is concerned about "significant" protectionist
rhetoric in the United States, Europe and other parts of the
world, although it will 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
(Editing by Susan Fenton and Susan Thomas)