Aviation News in Brief 28 Nov 2019

IndiGo, IATA, Fiji Airways, AFI KLM E&M, PNG Air Services, Aireon, ACI data, SITA, AAPA.

Aviation News
An artist's rendering of once bustling airline routes in Asia-Pacific. (PHOTO: Shutterstock)

IndiGoIndiGo receives IATA membership certificate: Following an earlier announcement that India’s IndiGo is joining the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the airline received its membership certificate in Gurgaon. Conrad Clifford, IATA’s regional vice president for Asia-Pacific, presented the certificate to Wolfgang Prock-Schauer, president and COO of IndiGo. The membership will help IndiGo align to global practices developed by IATA and further strengthen the airline’s partnership portfolio. IndiGo recently announced a one-way codeshare with Qatar Airways and partnered with Turkish Airlines in December 2018 to expand its international presence. As part of its expansion strategy, IndiGo entered into new markets including Turkey, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, China, Myanmar and Vietnam in 2019, commencing operations to multiple cities in each market.

IndiGoFiji Airways joins the A350 club at AFI KLM E&M: AFI KLM E&M and Fiji Airways have signed a deal for A350 component maintenance solutions. The Fijian airline has opted for a long-term partnership, and will have access to services in component repair, logistics and access to spare parts via the Main Base Kit and parts pool. The signing of this agreement sees AFI KLM E&M extend its working relationship with Fiji Airways, which began in 2013 for the airline’s fleet of A330s. “Fiji Airways is joining a vast community of customers who’ve entrusted AFI KLM E&M with components support for their A350 fleets,” explains Fabrice Defrance, senior vice president for commercial at AFI KLM E&M.

IndiGoPNG Air Services signs agreement with Aireon: Papua New Guinea Air Services Limited (PNGASL) announced it has signed an agreement to deploy Aireon’s space-based Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) air traffic surveillance service in the Port Moresby Flight Information Region (FIR). This announcement will enable the near-term deployment of 100 percent, real-time air traffic surveillance of all ADS-B equipped aircraft. Since its operations commenced in 2008, PNGASL has relied on ground-based infrastructure for its surveillance capabilities. However, because of Papua New Guinea’s extremely mountainous and difficult terrains, as well as unpredictable inclement weather, it has been a challenge for PNGASL to efficiently install and effectively maintain ground stations. With space-based ADS-B, PNGASL will no longer be constrained by these geographic and technical challenges. Within the next few months, PNGASL will have real-time air traffic surveillance over the Port Moresby FIR, which shares common borders with Brisbane FIR, managed by Airservices Australia, the Oakland Oceanic FIR, managed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and, Ujung Pandang FIR, managed by AirNav Indonesia.

ACI: Growth in passenger market shows signs of stabilising in September: The global passenger market grew by 2.6 percent in September, showing signs of stabilising after a particularly challenging 2019, according to figures released by ACI. The month marked the end of the third quarter of 2019, with year-to-date growth standing at 3.1 percent, less than half of the 6.4 percent growth observed in 2018. The general outlook for the air freight industry remained negative, with global volumes declining by 4.2 percent in September. The year-to-date figure stood at -3.1 percent and, with only three months left in the year, global trade growth will be difficult to achieve. Europe and Asia-Pacific posted comparable growth figures during the month, at 2.1 percent and 2 percent respectively on a year-over-year basis. Europe’s gains up to the end of Q3 remained more than twice as high as Asia-Pacific’s, at 3.6 percent versus 1.7 percent. Though the chances of an end-of-year decline in the Asia-Pacific market remain quite slim, the effects of the economic slowdown and trade wars are quite apparent in the region. Asia-Pacific’s freight volumes declined by 3.9 percent in September, results that are a slight improvement over August’s 6.8 percent fall, but still a decline. With the region suffering the brunt of the trade wars’ impacts due to their disruption of supply chains, and an ongoing political crisis in Hong Kong, 2019 will be a particularly difficult year for its freight industry.

SITA: China’s airlines and airports focus on AI: Airlines and airports in China are embracing artificial intelligence and automation to provide personalised self-service, according to the SITA 2019 China IT Insights. A key technology that is attracting investment is artificial intelligence (AI). SITA’s China IT Insights reveals that 88 percent of both airlines and airports are planning major programs, or R&D, with AI by 2022 and they are focusing on virtual agents and chatbots. This investment matches the demands from passengers; SITA’s research of passengers in China shows that 64 percent of them want a digital travel concierge. Already nearly half (43 percent) of airlines in China have AI-driven chatbot customer services and the planned investment should see the availability of them rising quickly over the coming years. For passengers of China’s airlines and airports, self-service has reached a strong level of maturity, but a step-change is coming as biometrics is being adopted. Today, 27 percent of airports have self-boarding gates using biometrics with travel documents but in just three years this will jump to 66 percent. And more than half of the airports have plans for secure single biometric tokens for all touch points by 2022. Airlines too are committing to self-boarding gates using biometrics with ID, 60 percent are planning to use them driving a secure and seamless passenger experience right through the airport with the next three years.

AAPA: Resilient air passenger markets, weak air cargo demand: Preliminary traffic figures for the month of October released by the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) showed international air passenger demand continued to grow at a moderate pace, demonstrating resilience in the face of the ongoing easing in global economy activity. Meanwhile, weakness in air cargo markets persisted, as the slowdown in overall demand for exports continued to weigh on international trade flows. A combined 30.7 million international passengers were carried by the region’s airlines in October, 3.1 percent more than the same month last year. Demand in revenue passenger kilometre (RPK) terms climbed 3.5 percent higher, reflecting the relative strength of long haul markets.  After accounting for a 2.2 percent expansion in available seat capacity, the average international passenger load factor rose by 1 percentage point to reach 79.8 percent for the month. International air cargo demand in freight tonne kilometre terms (FTK) declined by 5.9 percent year-on-year in October, whereas offered freight capacity increased by a marginal 0.1 percent. As a result, the average international freight load factor fell, by 3.9 percentage points to 61.9 percent for the month.

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Matthew Driskill is the Editor of Asian Aviation and is based in Cambodia. He has been an Asia-based journalist and content producer since 1990 for outlets including Reuters and the International Herald Tribune/New York Times and is a former president of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Hong Kong. He frequently appears on international broadcast outlets like CNN, Al Jazeera and the BBC and has taught journalism at Hong Kong University and the American University of Paris. Driskill has received awards from the Associated Press for Investigative Reporting and Business Writing and in 1989 was named the John J. McCloy Fellow by the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in New York where he earned his Master's Degree.


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