Building sustainable air transport for the Asian Century

- Melbourne, Australia

Aviation leaders are meeting at the inaugural Asia-Pacific Aviation / Aerospace Leaders Summit today in Melbourne. The Summit is an opportunity for industry leaders from across Asia-Pacific to work together to ensure the sustainable growth of aviation as the region becomes the world’s economic and aviation powerhouse.

Speaking at the Summit, Paul Steele, Executive Director of ATAG, said: “Air transport supports over 21 million jobs in Asia-Pacific and more than $470 billion in economic activity for this region. As the world enters what is becoming known as the Asian Century, aviation’s important contribution to the region’s economies is becoming even greater. While world air traffic grew by around 21% between 2005 and 2010, intra-Asian traffic grew by 135%. Passenger traffic between China and Africa went up 311%, between China and Brazil 256%. And each time a large passenger jet flies across the world, its hold is full of high-value goods making their way to market.

 “Growth in aviation fosters growth in the wider economy, enhances connectivity and is a supporter of millions of jobs both directly and as a result of the trade and tourism that air transport makes possible. Many Asian Governments have realised this and are responding with plans for new infrastructure. But sustainability is the key to worthwhile long-term growth. Much needed infrastructure must be delivered with environmental imperatives in mind and with an emphasis on long-term land-use planning. Asia has the opportunity to avoid future impacts on communities by planning properly now. We can’t repeat the mistakes made in other parts of the world where bad planning has resulted in capacity constraints.

“Looking at the broader global issue of climate change, the aviation industry has set some of the most ambitious targets for reducing CO2 emissions of any sector. All parts of the industry are responding with collaborative actions and many governments are stepping up to the challenge too.”

Steele outlined some of the areas in which governments in Asia and across the world can help with the sustainable growth in aviation:

  • Recognise the importance of aviation to economic growth and ensure that national development plans include air transport as a key driver for future prosperity.
  • Encourage the free transport of trade and people with open skies and easier border processing within Asian economies.
  • Support the development of airports across the region, responding to forecast demand but maintaining proper land-use planning and sustainable development.
  • Foster the use of next generation aerospace technologies and sustainable aviation biofuels through research partnerships, academic projects and prioritisation of aviation as a user of biofuels.
  • Recognise the opportunity for environmental and capacity improvements through the advent of better air traffic control operations – particularly the ICAO block upgrades and fledgling Seamless Asian Sky concept.

At today’s Summit, ATAG joined with Aviation / Aerospace Australia in signing a memorandum of cooperation between the two organisations.

Aviation / Aerospace Australia chief executive officer Jim Carden said, “The Summit clearly comes at a time of great challenge and change, as the Asia-Pacific region becomes home to most of the world’s middle class and the largest producer and consumer of goods and services.

“Aviation and aerospace are a fundamental driver of this growth, and a key to regional prosperity, but the challenge is, how do we sustain growth while maintaining the highest standards of environmental management, safety, skills and quality? Planning is already underway to hold the next Summit in 2014, and to establish the event as the premier industry summit on the region's calendar.”

ATAG’s Paul Steele remarked that both organisations share similar goals, “ensuring air transport can grow in a robust and yet sustainable way in Australia, across Asia-Pacific and around the world. The industry has come together to tackle its climate change impact at a global level and we can also join forces to highlight to governments the importance of good connectivity to sustainable economic growth everywhere.”


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