Despite all the pressure and risk, Asia Pacific carriers are well-placed to capture market opportunities in an expanding global economy.
Improvements in global trade sentiment have delivered a robust 10% growth in air cargo volumes, a welcome development for Asian carriers which account for nearly 40% of global air cargo traffic. Although there has been considerable pressure on yields in a fiercely competitive environment, Asia Pacific carriers in aggregate are expected to deliver profitability levels similar to last year.
Against this broadly positive backdrop, Asia Pacific airline leaders are gathering at this year’s Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) Assembly of Presidents meeting in Taipei, where there will a sharp focus on industry issues and global risks.
Despite recent yield pressures as a result of intense competition, the region’s carriers are continuing to invest in fleet renewals and innovative service offerings including the latest cabin seating and amenities across all passenger segments. Asia Pacific carriers are also at the forefront of launching new ultra-long haul flights.
Safety continues to be the industry’s number one priority, with carriers maintaining the highest safety standards in 2017. Nonetheless, Asia-Pacific carriers recognise the need for vigilance at all operational levels. The Association plays an important role in actively engaging with regulators and other industry stakeholders to share lessons learned and prioritise enhanced safety measures. On a positive note, AAPA welcomed the recent removal of ICAO’s “red flag” on safety concerns in Thailand, as a result of concrete actions taken by the government of Thailand to improve safety oversight.
However, AAPA recognizes more efforts are needed in resolving regulatory oversight issues elsewhere in the region. AAPA strongly supports the ICAO ‘No Country Left Behind’ campaign, which aims to address disparities in the quality of regulatory oversight amongst different states through improved implementation and compliance.
Environmental sustainability continues to be a major focus for AAPA and its members, who welcomed the global agreement for the implementation of the Carbon Offsetting & Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) at the 39th ICAO Assembly in 2016. The air transport industry fully acknowledges its climate change responsibilities, and Asia Pacific carriers are fully committed to helping the industry achieve the goal of carbon neutral growth from 2020.
In addition to a comprehensive global market-based measure scheme, airlines from the region have already taken action towards meeting fuel efficiency goals, including investing in new generation aircraft technology that offer CO2 emissions reductions, the use of sustainable alternative fuels, as well as operations and infrastructure improvements.
Other key industry topics under consideration at this year’s Assembly include taxes and charges, and infrastructure development.