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Asia-Pacific airlines ‘old hands’ at dealing with industry volatility

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November 1st 2019

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As the year comes to a close, several challenges persist for Asia-Pacific carriers that are peculiar to the region. Read More »

Top of the list are ways to counteract the negative impact of the Sino/U.S. trade war on airline profitability.

There is some optimism the global economic giants will reach a partial solution to their trade conflict in coming weeks. In the meantime, the present stand-off has inflicted plenty of economic pain on the air freight business, a major contributor to the profits of several Asia-Pacific carriers. A separate political dispute between Japan and Korea has contracted passenger numbers at airlines which earn significant income from their networks across North Asia.

Also critical to the operations of several airlines in the region will be the circumstances surrounding the re-entry to service of the globally grounded MAX 737 fleet.

In our cover story this month, AAPA director general, Andrew Herdman, said it would be very hard to coordinate a simultaneous recertification and re-entry into service of the aircraft type to all its operating airlines.

Even after the software modifications and revised training regulations are approved, implementing these changes with multiple airlines across the world and then returning hundreds of aircraft to flying is a logistical mountain to climb. Airlines also will have to persuade the travelling public the MAX was safe to fly, he said.

Beyond these complex issues, there is the ever-present need for more aviation infrastructure to be built and at a faster rate. There also must be improved integration of ATM systems across the region, especially as passenger numbers are forecast to increase to eight billion a year by 2038.

There is one other industry challenge that attracts focused attention from the region’s airlines. Despite outstanding industry results in reducing greenhouse gases from flying, the message has not made it to the people who count: present and future airline passengers.

It is unlikely the latest wave of European climate change movements calling for people to stop flying will take hold in the Asia-Pacific, a region utterly reliant on air travel.

Herdman correctly pointed out aviation has a good story to tell about CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation), but so far, no one has successfully converted the technical and political strategy into digestible messages that engage the general public.

Ask the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the Air Transport Action Group. For more than a decade, they have been tireless in their efforts to spell out the industry’s goals of being carbon neutral from next year over 2005 figures and achieving a 50% reduction in CO2 by 2050.

IATA is launching a campaign to counter “flight shaming” that is impacting on passenger bookings in several European countries. “It is difficult to measure and beyond European borders we have seen nothing, but it will come [to other regions],” said IATA director general and CEO, Alexandre de Junaic. We have been warned.

Associate editor and chief correspondent
Orient Aviation Media Group

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