AAPA 60th General Assembly
AAPA optimistic about future growth
The environment, regulatory hurdles, safety and new technology were all on the menu in November when Asian carriers met in Manila in for the 60th General Assembly of the Association of Asia-Pacific Airlines (AAPA). AAV editor Matt Driskill was on hand.
Asian airlines represented at the Manila gathering of AAPA members said they were optimistic about the future of the industry, but said following the two-day confab that “barriers imposed by governments continue to threaten short-term profitability and maximum potential in the long-term.”
AAPA officials said the organisation remains “resolute” to help its member carriers overcome the challenges and approved several resolutions on safety, taxes, health regulations and other topics as it prepares for the year ahead.
AAPA director general Andrew Herdman, at various times during the event, touted the group’s commitment to improving the environment and said the group in Asia and the industry overall have “good reason to celebrate” the signing of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Carbon Offsetting & Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) agreement that will come into force in 2020. Herdman called critics of the plan “churlish” and said while the CORSIA plan could be better, “overall it’s good news” for the industry.
“Key to its success will be ensuring that governments carry through with full support for the agreement to achieve global reach and minimise competitive market distortions,” the AAPA said in a statement following the assembly. “In addition, governments need to specifically commit to aviation infrastructure investments that keep pace with demand growth and environmental targets.”
Herdman was also highly complimentary about the region’s safety record, in which there’s been one major accident in 3 million flights, but said national safety standards sometimes conflict with regulations promulgated by international agencies like ICAO. The association said in its final statement that it remains “deeply concerned about safety oversight in the region, where carriers can sometimes find themselves subject to restrictions or even banned from operating to other countries, due to a lack of effective national regulatory oversight in line with accepted international standards.”
The AAPA said it would continue to call on governments “to respect the primacy of ICAO standards and strongly support the ‘No Country Left Behind’ campaign which aims to address disparities in the quality of regulatory oversight amongst different states through improved implementation and compliance. In addition, AAPA remains opposed to the unilateral imposition of extra-territorial measures and operating restrictions, where airlines can find themselves being held responsible for the shortcomings of their national regulatory authorities.”
Herdman alluded to this challenge of overlapping regulations when he said Asia enjoys “political
diversity, which is a benefit, but also a challenge when it comes to agreeing on change.”
The AAPA members also discussed easing passenger flows through national boundaries and the association called on regional governments to “rethink” national policies that do little to add to security but do a lot to impede smooth passenger flow. “The travelling public continues to be frustrated by a degraded travel experience as a result of increasingly complex, intrusive, onerous and inconsistent aviation security procedures,” the association said, adding that “advanced identity document technologies, including biometrics and machine readable travel documents have proved effective to help streamline passenger and crew processing, whilst strengthening aviation security. Unfortunately, airport checkpoints continue to focus on high risk objects, but only provide limited capability to identify high risk travellers.”
The association also called on governments to hold off on imposing “unjustified taxes” on the industry because such taxes do little to raise real revenue and in fact hurt economic development by acting as a damper on travel demand.
“Governments continue to misjudge the strength of negative sentiment held by Asian airline leaders about the unnecessary burden of misguided policies and unjustified taxation,” Herdman said. “Officials that continue to turn their back on repeated calls for a more reasoned approach are not only inflicting financial pain on Asian carriers that already operate under fiercely competitive conditions, but are also ultimately undermining their own national economic development and sustainability.”