IATA chief addresses infrastructure challenges for airports in the Asia-Pacific region

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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is calling for urgent attention to address the infrastructure challenges faced by airports and airlines in the Asia-Pacific region.

In his keynote address at the Singapore Airshow Aviation Leadership Summit (SAALS), taking place from February 4-5 at the Pan Pacific hotel in Singapore, Alexandre de Juniac, director general and CEO, IATA, said, “Having the infrastructure to grow is vital to our industry’s future, but in many key places it is not being built fast enough to meet growing demand and there are worrying trends which are increasing costs.

“One of these is airport privatization. We have not found the correct regulatory framework to balance the interests of the investors to turn a profit with the public interest for the airport to be a catalyst for economic growth. All the optimism supporting strong aircraft orders will mean nothing if we don’t have the capability to manage traffic in the air and at airports.”

De Juniac highlighted the lack of airport capacity in Jakarta, Bangkok and Manila as his top concerns in the Asia-Pacific region: “At the other end of the spectrum, we have Seoul’s Incheon Airport. It recently added runway and terminal capacity without raising charges for airlines and passengers.

“It also extended an airport charges discount introduced two years ago. This sets a very positive example for other airports to follow. It also demonstrates great understanding of the role aviation plays in linking the Korean economy to economic opportunities globally.”

“The Singapore government is also showing great foresight with its expansion plans for Changi Airport, including Terminal 5 (T5),” said de Juniac. “But there are challenges. We must ensure the plans for T5 are robust enough to meet the high standards of airline operations and passenger convenience users of Changi Airport have come to expect. We also need to get the funding model right to avoid burdening the industry with extra costs. The prize to keep in sight is the airport’s contribution to Singapore’s overall economy.”

De Juniac’s comments follow reports that Changi plans to introduce a passenger tax and increased charges to fund the construction of T5.

For IATA, ensuring sufficient and cost-efficient infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific is a top priority. The region is center stage of the industry’s overall growth with 3.5 billion trips expected within the Asia-Pacific region in 2036, 1.5 billion of which will touch on China.

IATA also expects China to become the largest single aviation market as early as 2022. The organization also sees India as another emerging power-house although it is expected to take longer to mature

The Singapore Airshow Aviation Leadership Summit is co-organized by IATA, Singapore’s Ministry of Transport, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, and Experia Events.

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