Tuesday, July 7, 2009

‘Beyond crisis, Philippine Aviation Sector can grow’

WITHIN the next 10 to 20 years, there will be a demand for 100,000 pilots worldwide and more than 1 million in associated jobs such as aircraft mechanics and cabin crew to service between 35,000 and 40,000 aircraft.
The Philippines would be in a position to grab a bigger percentage of this work force if the government and the civilian-aviation sector would this early unite and plan a course of action that would ignite interest in aviation among the populace.
Avelino Zapanta, Zest Air CEO who is also lead organizer of the new group Aviation Society of the Philippines (ASP), disclosed this, saying “statistics have indicated” such a situation, in his opening remarks at the first conference of the group at the Air Force Museum in Villamor Air Base over the weekend.
Despite the gloomy economic outlook at present, airlines around the world have already given their orders for new aircraft to either Boeing and Airbus, the world’s largest aircraft manufacturers, Zapanta said.
“That’s why we have to rally those aviation institutions, like in education such as the Philippine Aviation Training Schools and others, because they need to expand,” he said, adding that local flying schools can hardly turn out 150 pilots a year.
“I don’t think we’re producing more than 150 pilots a year. We have to create more flying schools, and the government should dip its finger into it. They are the No. 1 beneficiary,” said Zapanta.
There is also a need to interest the public in the sector if the needed students are to be had, he added.
The president of ASP, Danilo Augusto Francia, concurrent manager of the Cebu-Mactan International Airport, said it is the duty of the new organization to help the government spread the virtues of modern aviation, noting the lack of local interest in this sector.
The guest speaker, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, said, “In the aviation industry, competition is the name of the game. We must avoid the pwede na [that’s good enough] mentality; many accidents have happened because of this attitude, and I think it’s time that the Philippines shed, throw away and consign perpetually to the dustbin that kind of attitude.”
He added the ASP can be a forum to espouse excellence in the aviation industry.
Zapanta’s estimate is in accord with the forecast of Boeing that there is a $3.2-trillion market for new commercial airplanes over the next 20 years, taking into account the industry’s near-term realities, including a global economic recession, declining passenger and cargo traffic and unpredictable fuel prices.
The Boeing 2009 Current Market Outlook released in London in June foresees a market for 29,000 new commercial passenger and freighter airplanes by 2028.
The rest of the aircraft requirement worldwide is supplied by Airbus of the European Union, and smaller aircraft manufacturers in China, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.
The report, now on its 45th year of public release and widely regarded as the most comprehensive and respected analysis of the commercial aviation market, reflects the extremely dynamic situation the industry is facing today.
“While the commercial aviation industry is facing a significant downturn, it is cyclic and has a long history of declines and upturns,” said Randy Tinseth, Boeing vice president marketing. “Over the past 30 years, through both tough and good times, traffic growth has averaged more than 5 percent per year, demonstrating the resilience of the market. The long-term outlook points to the next 20 years as being a time in which we see fundamental underlying factors supporting a strong need for new airplanes.”
Boeing expects passenger traffic to grow at an average rate of 4.9 percent each year for the next 20 years. Demand globally remains strong for new, more efficient commercial airplanes in response to high fuel prices, aging fleets and environmental concerns.
Boeing predicts that airlines will grow by responding to their passengers’ preference for more flight choices, lower fares and direct access to a wider range of destinations. This means they will focus on offering more flights using more efficient airplanes, rather than on using significantly larger airplanes.

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