Saturday, February 13, 2010

IATA urges Asia to speed up liberalization of aviation

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has warned that Asian aviation will not reach its potential if the airlines are constrained to old ways of doing business.

IATA noted that the aviation industry is preparing for regional liberalization of market access with the ASEAN target date of 2015. It is important that the target date is met.

"This is already well-behind the industry leading developments in the US-EU Open Skies agreement. Second stage talks will conclude this year with ownership being the most important issue,” said IATA.

“To move liberalization forward, IATA took the extra-ordinary step of calling governments together with IATA’s Agenda for Freedom.

After a year of talks, in November 2009, seven governments, including the US, the European Commission, Singapore and Malaysia signed a multilateral statement of policy principles," said IATA Secretary-General and CEO Giovanni Bisignani.

"These principles preserve a level playing field while addressing liberalization of market access, pricing and ownership. The challenge for Asia is to implement these principles in the region’s bilateral arrangement,” said Bisignani.

“Asia-Pacific’s diversity, dynamism and potential are a great opportunity. Rapidly developing markets are defining aviation’s future. Is Asia-Pacific prepared for the challenges that this will bring?”

Asia-Pacific is home to two of the world’s top five airlines in terms of profitability. At the same time, the region’s governments provided over US$10 billion in government bailouts to airlines in the first quarter of the year.

The region’s two biggest growth markets “India and China” face completely different circumstances. India’s challenge is to reduce costs and improve infrastructure, while China is adjusting to new global trade patterns.

Over the last decade China replaced Japan as Asia-Pacific’s largest player. Today, China’s fleet is 1,400 aircraft compared to Japan’s 540.

Its domestic market of 5.7 million weekly seats is more than double Japan’s 2.6 million and China’s 1.4 million weekly international seat market is now slightly larger than Japan’s 1.3 million.

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