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Aviation, Society and the World Economy
Aviation is vital to a globalised economy and facilitates a growing freedom of movement of goods, workers and tourists - stimulating international trade and providing efficient access to different cultures:
  • Globally, 2.5 billion passengers and around 50 million tonnes of freight are flown each year;
  • 5.5 million people are directly employed in the industry, with a turnover of more than US$1 trillion;
  • If aviation was a country, it would rank 21st in the world - between Spain and Italy - in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP);
  • While air transport carries around 5% of the volume of world trade shipments, it is over 35% by value - meaning that goods shipped by air are very high value commodities, often perishable or time-sensitive; and
  • Fuel efficiency has improved by 70% since the 1970s and noise reducedby 90%1.

Despite industry growth at around 5%2 a year , the industry is expected to contribute around 3% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 20503. At the same time, the industry is committed to reducing the environmental impacts brought about by air transport. Air transport also contributes to people's quality of life, supporting remote communities by promoting tourism and providing employment, facilitating humanitarian aid and cultural exchange and widening consumer choice of products and travel destinations.

1. Data from Boeing
2. WBCSD, 2002
3. IPCC, 2007 and IPCC - AIE, 2005

Timeline of Cathay Pacific