Speaking at the recent Asia Pacifi c Aviation Media Association’s (APAMA) Aviation Lecture in Singapore, the director general and CEO of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Giovanni Bisignani urged Asia to take a greater leadership role in shaping the global aviation industry. Unfortunately, cargo didn’t feature prominently in his speech despite the fact that especially Asian carriers derive a signifi cant portion of their overall revenue from cargo. Some highlights:
“Asia is a big part of the aviation world. By 2010, intra-Asia traffi c will be the largest market in the world, accounting for one third of the world’s traffi c. Critical mass comes with leadership responsibilities,” said Bisignani.
He identifi ed three opportunities for Asian leadership in the aviation industry including technology, policy and the environment.
“As the labour cost gap narrows, technology is the key to competitiveness,” said Bisignani. He highlighted electronic ticketing (ET), which will save the industry US$3 billion. While China is at 95 percent ET penetration, well above the global average of 78 percent, the rest of Asia is only 3 percent ahead of Africa at 68 percent due to the slow uptake of ET in Japan and Malaysia. “We will make our 100 percent target by the end of this year, but it will require a major effort by some carriers to catch up,” he said.
He also urged Asia to lead air traffi c management by implementing costeffective technologies that are in line with global standards. Focusing more on aircraft capabilities, we can reduce the need for expensive and labour intensive ground based facilities, while improving both safety and effi ciency, thus increasing airspace capacity.
With regard to policy, Bisignani called on Asia to develop a regional policy approach to industry issues, such as safety and liberalisation.
“Governments are responsible for safety. However, not all governments in Asia are at the same level in safety oversight. Global standards need to be maintained by all. Asia’s governments need to start incorporating the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) into their safety oversight programmes in order to drive the accident rate down,” said Bisignani. The 2006 accident rate for Asia Pacifi c carriers was on par with the global average of 1 accident for every 1.5 million fl ights. But the industry target is a 25 percent improvement by 2008.
Airlines need commercial freedom to operate as true businesses. “The future is yours to shape. Don’t repeat the short-sighted mistakes of Europe and the US. While the recent US and Europe open skies agreement was a step in the right direction, it fell short of the fundamental change that the industry needs. They have lost the vision that made them natural industry leaders. It’s Asia’s turn. But you must think bigger and faster to implement a staged approach to liberalisation that can keep pace with the needs of a dynamic industry,” said Bisignani.