Air Transport

Photo credit: Charles Schlumberger

Air transport is an important enabler to achieving economic growth and development. Air transport facilitates integration into the global economy and provides vital connectivity on a national, regional, and international scale. It helps generate trade, promote tourism, and create employment opportunities. The World Bank has financed aviation-related projects for over sixty years. Today, the WBG remains actively engaged in every region on projects related to air transport policy and regulation, safety, infrastructure rehabilitation, institutional strengthening, and capacity building.

To assist clients in establishing a safe, functional, efficient, affordable, and reliable air transport network, the Bank is mandated to undertake the following activities:

  • Operational work through projects and technical assistance.
  • Economic sector work, research, and knowledge dissemination on air transport related issues.
  • External relations and collaboration with partner organizations.
  • Internal services (e.g., the airline advisory service for WBG staff).

These activities are detailed in a comprehensive annual report, which aims to outline the objectives, instruments, and outcomes of the WBG's development activities in the field of air transportation.


Link to archives: Into the Jet Age

In the early days, the World Bank financed equipment such as aircraft for state-owned airlines, and undertook standalone infrastructure projects. With the liberalization of the air transport sector worldwide, and the privatization of many state-owned airlines, the World Bank shifted its pure investment focus to incorporate capacity building, policy and regulatory support.

In Fiscal Year 2015 (FY15), WBG’s Air Transport Portfolio amounted to US$1.47 billion, an increase of 2% from Fiscal Year 2014 (FY14). The Air Transport segment makes up around 3% of the WBG’s US$45 billion Transport portfolio. The WBG’s FY15 Transport portfolio consists approximately 19% of the WBG’s active portfolio of US$248 billion (excluding MIGA). The Air Transport portfolio includes around 26 projects or project components through the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and International Development Association (IDA), as well as the International Finance Corporation (IFC)’s portfolio of lending and investment advisories in the aviation sector. 

Major ongoing projects include the Pacific Aviation Investment Program, which is helping to promote safe and efficient air travel in the Pacific Islands by improving aviation infrastructure, management, and operations. The World Bank continues to finance large airport projects, such as the Cairo Airport Development Project - TB2. The IFC is engaged in the sector through the provision of loans, equity, and advisory services to stimulate private sector investment, for example, Zagreb International Airport, Croatia and Queen Alia International Airport, Jordan.

Photo credit: Charles Schlumberger