The aviation industry generates and supports over 56 million jobs around the world as well as enough economic wealth to make it the 19th largest global economy, if it were a country, a report for the sector said.
The report, for the cross-industry Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) by the Oxford Economics analysis organisation, said freight carried annually amounted to 35 per cent of the value of world trade but only 0.5 per cent of the volume.
The study, "Aviation: Benefits Beyond Borders", was issued at the start of a two-day conference on aviation and the environment organised annually by the Geneva-based ATAG and attracting senior industry leaders.
Gross domestic product created and heavily maintained - like international tourism - by the industry, with its 1,568 currently registered commercial airlines, totalled USD$2.2 trillion, the document noted.
"When you take into account the further benefits from the speed and reliability of air travel, the businesses that exist because air freight makes them possible... the economic impact would be several times larger," said ATAG executive director Paul Steele.
The report said of the 56.6 million jobs supported by aviation, 8.4 million were directly employed in the industry, 9.3 million in industry suppliers and 4.4 million induced through spending by industry employees.
The part of the tourism sector made possible by aviation employed a huge total of 34.5 million jobs, it added.
Key topics for the conference include the role of aviation in sustainable development and the development of biofuels as well as airport growth and the part governments play in easing emissions by opening up airspace.