Despite numerous challenges that threaten future profitability and sustainability, Asia Pacific carriers continue to play a key role in leading the growth of the global air transport industry.
The AAPA 62nd Assembly of Presidents held in Jeju, Korea strengthened the resolve of its airline leaders to maintain pressure in resolving current regulatory issues relating to safety, environment, infrastructure and passenger rights, whilst recognising the need to address other challenges including future manpower development and efforts to combat wildlife trafficking. These topics have all been covered in a series of resolutions passed by the AAPA Assembly of Presidents.
Overall safety performance in the Asia Pacific region has continued to improve, and AAPA remains vigilant on the need for effective safety oversight in the region. AAPA sees further opportunities to enhance aviation safety performance, through the formation of regional and national safety teams, working within a “Just Culture” framework built on mutual trust between regulators and industry.
The agreement on the Carbon Offsetting & Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) was reached at the 39th ICAO Assembly in 2016 and is now approaching a critical stage in the implementation process, with full emissions reporting by carriers commencing in January 2019. The airline industry is demonstrating full commitment to the CORSIA process, but AAPA is concerned that some governments are imposing variations or additional requirements, which could undermine the integrity and environmental effectiveness of the scheme.
The prospect of continuing strong passenger traffic and airline fleet growth over the next 20 years dictates the need for commensurate expansion of both airport and air traffic management infrastructure to avoid increasing congestion and flight delays in the future. The capital-intensive nature of infrastructure investments raises important questions about planning and financing, and the necessity for appropriate regulatory oversight by governments. AAPA is concerned about the effect on user charges, and arguing for a more coherent debate on how such infrastructure is best funded and regulated in the future.
AAPA has identified new challenges in the area of passenger rights, where many governments have introduced aviation-specific consumer protection regimes. These actions are often uncoordinated and sometimes inconsistent with existing international treaties, which results in confusion for consumers and operational difficulties for airlines. Of particular concern are instances of mass disruption as a result of extreme weather events or other natural disasters, where the focus should be on wider service recovery efforts.
The substantial growth in demand for air travel is also creating challenges in recruiting the required numbers of aviation professionals including pilots and maintenance personnel. AAPA sees the need for governments and industry stakeholders to work together to promote manpower training and development including support for ICAO’s Next Generation of Aviation Professionals (NGAP) programme.
Some of the world’s most endangered wildlife species are threatened by criminal groups seeking to profit from trafficking wildlife and wildlife products around the world. Airlines have a role to play in helping to address this issue through closer collaboration with governments, law enforcement agencies, airports and freight forwarders.
“Asia Pacific carriers lead the development of the global air transport industry, but the long-term profitability and sustainability of the industry risks being undermined by inappropriate government legislation and short-term policy thinking,” said Andrew Herdman, AAPA Director General. “More so in Asia than anywhere else, the air transport industry is a key driver for business, economic and social development. In this respect, the Association will work energetically to challenge constraints that could restrict the aviation sector from reaching its full potential.”