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Published on : Friday, November 15, 2013
Asia Pacific carriers have played a pivotal role in reshaping the global air transport industry over the past five years, successfully overcoming multiple challenges to emerge more efficient than ever before. Despite pressures on profitability, the region’s airlines have continued to invest heavily in the latest generation of environmentally friendly and fuel efficient aircraft, with cabins in all classes equipped with the most advanced in-flight entertainment systems and renowned high service standards being maintained.
These achievements are all the more remarkable given the fact that during the same period, governments around the world have continuously sought to impose a swath of illconceived new regulations and taxes that have impacted negatively on growth. Amongst others, European and US governments have imposed regulatory constraints that are counterproductive to strenuous efforts made by the airline industry to improve efficiency and the overall passenger experience.
The Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) renews its strong criticism of such government-imposed constraints, with resolutions in a number of key areas being adopted by members of the Association upon the conclusion of 57th Assembly of Presidents hosted by Dragonair in Hong Kong today. This year’s resolutions directly tackle government interference and inefficiency in areas including Environmental Policy, Cargo Security, Infrastructure Planning, Passenger Facilitation, Passenger Rights and Unfair Taxes.
Mr. Andrew Herdman, AAPA Director General said, “Governments around the world appear to have been blind to the fact that airlines have been fighting for survival over the
past five years, with post recessionary market conditions still making it very tough to earn a decent return on investment. Indeed, by treating aviation as a cash cow, some governments appear to ignore the financial damage being inflicted on both airlines and their own economies.”
On aviation environment policy, Mr. Herdman commented, “Even after all the efforts at the 38th ICAO Assembly to reach a landmark global agreement to develop a market based measure to address aviation emissions, the recent EU proposal to extend the EU ETS to European airspace has been met with a mixture of incredulity and disbelief.
AAPA is absolutely convinced that the interests of Asia Pacific carriers, and the industry as a whole are best served by supporting a global solution, not a patchwork of national or regional schemes that will only distort the market.”
During the Assembly of Presidents, Mr. Herdman also addressed the critical issue of safety and commented, “Flying is extraordinarily safe, and getting safer, but every accident reminds us of the need to stay vigilant to achieve even higher standards. We look to the region’s regulators to strengthen their oversight and keep pace with growth.”
The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) is the most appropriate forum for
governments to work together and achieve a consensus on an effective global approach
to aviation and the environment. At the 38th ICAO Assembly earlier this year, governments reaffirmed ICAO’s collective aspirational goals and agreed on a resolution
to develop a global market based measure (MBM) to address the growth of international
aviation emissions beyond 2020.
However, the EU airspace proposal is in direct contravention of the substance and spirit
of the agreement reached at the ICAO 38th Assembly.
AAPA calls upon governments to respect the decisions reached at the ICAO Assembly
and build on the agreed consensus by working together to build a global MBM scheme for
adoption in 2016 and implementation in 2020. A global MBM needs to be implemented in a way that is fair and equitable, avoids any competitive market distortion and which
reconciles the differing interests and perspectives of developed and developing nations.
AIR CARGO SECURITY
Governments at the 38th ICAO Assembly agreed to endorse a sustainable risk based approach to aviation security, based on international cooperation and wherever feasible, mutual recognition of respective security regimes. The global economy relies on secure supply chains that require governments and industry to work closely together to strengthen aviation security without inhibiting the flow of trade. As part of this collaboration, industry has developed programmes that can assist in implementing practical and harmonised risk-based measures that both facilitate and secure the movement of air cargo.
Aviation security stakeholders need to respond collectively to emerging security threats through sensible and practical approaches. Rather than extra-territorial auditing and validation regimes, global air cargo security would be better addressed through the mutual recognition of cargo security regimes on a multilateral or bilateral basis.
AAPA urges governments to support the development of harmonised air cargo advance screening methods, refrain from imposing extra-territorial security measures and instead favour mutually recognised cargo security regimes on a multilateral or bilateral basis.
Globally, demand for air travel is projected to grow 5% annually, with the Asia Pacific region projected to become the leading aviation market over the next twenty years.
Failure to make the necessary investments and operational improvements in air traffic
management (ATM) infrastructure and services to keep pace with air traffic growth has
already resulted in adverse consequences for the travelling public and the wider economy.
Infrastructure congestion in some critical areas has resulted in chronic delays, and operational and environmental inefficiency.
AAPA calls on governments to ensure that ATM capacity keeps pace with commercial air
traffic growth, working with the military authorities where necessary to alleviate airspace
usage limitations and constraints. AAPA further calls upon governments, in coordination
with airlines, to expedite investment and implementation of ATM projects that utilise modern techniques to deliver improved operational efficiencies and enhanced aviation
safety performance. Asian governments need to commit to a programme of investments
in efficient air traffic management, prompt implementation of recognised international
standards and procedures, and best operational practices in order to avoid unnecessary
congestion, delays and inconvenience to the travelling public.
Government agencies, including immigration, customs and health departments play a key
role in all countries in facilitating the smooth flow of passengers and cargo transported by
air. The development of common standards for machine readable travel documents,
amongst others, by ICAO has proved effective in the development of systems that
expedite the facilitation of international passengers and crew members through clearance
controls at airports. Cooperative efforts are being made by the aviation industry and other
stakeholders to use new technologies, including biometrics and other machine readable
data, to enhance the travel experience and streamline passenger processing.
Notwithstanding the large volumes of personal information of both crew and passengers
transmitted to governments well ahead of travel, airline crews and air travellers continue
to be faced with lengthy border processing times on arrival in airports.
AAPA calls on government agencies to consult widely with the aviation industry in order
to strike a better balance between national border control objectives and the need for efficient passenger facilitation. The Association goes on to call on governments to participate to the widest extent possible in electronic data interchange systems utilising
common standards in order to achieve maximum efficiency levels in the processing of
crew, passenger and cargo traffic at international airports, taking into account the growth
in passenger numbers over time. Finally, it calls on governments to continue to collaborate with all stakeholders in order to improve passenger facilitation, thereby enhancing the overall travel experience.
The air transport industry is a highly complex system in which multiple stakeholders work closely together and are interdependent on one another to ensure the smooth functioning of the overall system. Its functioning can occasionally be affected by factors beyond the control of the stakeholders, such as weather-related disturbances and other unpredictable events, but has demonstrated the ability to cope with and recover from various
crises. Over sixty governments have now implemented or are proposing to introduce overarching and highly prescriptive rules governing the treatment of passengers in a variety of such circumstances.
The 38th ICAO Assembly passed a resolution to develop a set of high-level, non-binding,
non-prescriptive core principles on consumer protection, for use as policy guidance,
which strike an appropriate balance between protection of consumers and industry
competitiveness. Some air passenger rights regulations may result in unintended
consequences by reducing passenger convenience and connectivity whilst increasing the
overall cost of travel.
Introducing overly-prescriptive legislation to regulate customer care can reduce the
incentive for airlines to innovate and offer differentiated customer service choice as a
competitive advantage. Air passengers are best served when they are able to make
choices from a wide range of competing fares and service options.
AAPA calls on governments to recognise the role of a competitive marketplace in
incentivising airlines to respond effectively to evolving customer needs and expectations
on service quality, and to avoid introducing legislation that would act as a disincentive to
airlines to continue to compete freely on differentiated customer service standards. The
Association further calls on governments to ensure that mandated regulations or
measures related to passenger processing and treatment are designed from the outset to
be practical, cost-effective, efficient and sustainable. Finally, it calls on governments to
consult with industry and to conduct systemic reviews and proper cost-benefit analysis,
recognising the true costs of implementing various rule-makings and the overall impact on
the travelling public.
Aviation plays a vital role in facilitating economic growth and social development
worldwide, representing 3.5% of global GDP and supporting over 57 million jobs.
ICAO provides guidance on taxation of international air transport and discourages levies
on international air services that would inhibit further economic development.
Despite past exhortations, there has been a proliferation of taxes in respect of certain
aspects of international air transport and charges on air passengers, several of which can be categorised as taxes on the sale or use of international air transport in contravention of
ICAO policies on taxation.
Punitive or discriminatory taxes on aviation in any form contravene ICAO’s policies on
taxation. Unjustified taxes also penalise the travelling public by making air travel
less affordable and undermine aviation’s vital role in fostering global tourism and broader
AAPA renews its call on governments to carefully consider the overall economic effects of
putting further financial strain on the travelling public and on the aviation industry, and to
refrain from increasing the burden of aviation levies in any form. The Association goes on
to call on governments to adhere to ICAO policies on taxation and ensure its recommendations are followed by all relevant taxation authorities within those governments. Finally, it calls on governments to avoid imposing unjustified or discriminatory taxes on international aviation, thereby imposing unwarranted costs on global tourism and trade.