Taipei - Industry leaders gathering for the 61st Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) Assembly of Presidents have good reason to be positive about the continuing growth of passenger and cargo traffic growth in an expanding global economy over the past 12 months. Whilst this growth has been accompanied by considerable pressure on yields, the most serious threats to such growth are still widely recognised to be the continuing proliferation of restrictive government policies, excessive taxes & charges and a lack of shared vision for the industry.
AAPA members acknowledge that they are stronger together in collectively challenging excessive government intervention that prevents the industry from reaching its full potential. Topics being addressed at this year's Assembly of Presidents include Aviation Security, Environment, Infrastructure, Slots, Passenger Facilitation & Privacy and Charges & Taxes.
Recent government restrictions and new enhanced security measures introduced in the wake of security concerns relating to electrical items, have resulted in a patchwork of inconsistent security measures around the world, confusion for air travellers and a degradation in the overall air travel experience. AAPA firmly believes that government agencies responsible for border control need to fundamentally rethink policies that should aim to strike a more reasonable balance between passenger facilitation and aviation security.
AAPA very much welcomed the agreement on the Carbon Offsetting & Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) reached at the ICAO Assembly in 2016. It is now looking to governments around the world to ensure that they remain fully committed to the process of introducing the necessary national legislation to implement the scheme within the next two years. AAPA sees it as critical that ICAO's CORSIA scheme remains global in scope, has environmental integrity and avoids competitive market distortions.
On infrastructure, the Association is also looking to governments in Asia to coordinate the necessary investments in aviation infrastructure, including airport runways, terminals and air navigation services, to keep pace with the growth in demand whilst delivering operational efficiencies and reduction in environmental impact. At congested slot controlled airports around the world, nearly 40 of which are in the Asia Pacific region, AAPA is calling on governments to ensure optimal use of scarce airport capacity by managing slots in an independent, fair and non-discriminatory manner.
AAPA acknowledges that the increasingly widespread use of advanced air transport IT systems, including biometrics and machine-readable travel documents has proved effective in helping streamline passenger and crew processing. However, recent expansion in government requests for Passenger Name Record (PNR) data for law enforcement purposes have raised issues of passenger privacy.
On taxation, AAPA continues to oppose the widespread imposition of unjustified or discriminatory taxes and charges on international aviation by governments, airport authorities and air navigation service providers.
"AAPA carriers operating in the world's most competitive markets have continuously innovated and adapted their service offerings to satisfy the ever-changing demands of the global travelling public, whilst maintaining the highest safety standards," said Mr. Andrew Herdman, AAPA Director General. "Whilst these achievements are certainly celebrated, the ever-growing burden of restrictive government legislation, increasing taxes and charges, and lack of shared vision for the industry, hold back the potential of Asia's carriers in fully contributing to the social and economic development of the region."
Airlines are fully committed to working closely with government security agencies, airports and other stakeholders to ensure that air travel remains safe, secure and convenient. Good security is all about comprehensive threat assessment and balanced risk management, not the elimination of every conceivable risk. However, there is a widespread recognition that threats and challenges to aviation security are constantly evolving.
Security measures should be risk-based, outcome-focused and proportionate to the probable threat, whilst providing the highest level of protection to passengers. Unilateral actions taken by individual governments reacting to emerging threats may result in unnecessary disruption or lead to unintended safety consequences.
AAPA calls on governments to commit to raising the aviation security bar through more effective implementation of existing ICAO global standards and quality controls. In this regard, the Association calls on governments to strengthen multilateral cooperation, in conjunction with ICAO, and to work together more closely with industry in further developing aviation security measures.
Governments meeting at the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) 39th Assembly in 2016 agreed to implement a global market based measure (GMBM) in the form of the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) to address future increases in total CO2 emissions from international civil aviation. Successful implementation of CORSIA will require reaching agreement on technical details and enactment of associated national legislation in the next two years.
The aviation industry, coordinated by the Air Transport Action Group, remains committed to ambitious environmental goals, to be achieved using a combination of technology, operations and infrastructure improvements, and alternative fuels, supplemented by a GMBM. In the Asia Pacific region, which is already the world's largest aviation market, airlines continue to make significant investments in modern aircraft and engines which will offer CO2 emission reductions.
AAPA re-iterates the call on governments to coordinate the necessary investments in aviation infrastructure to keep pace with the growth in travel demand to ensure improvements in operational efficiencies and reduction in environmental impact. The Association further calls on governments to adopt ICAO CORSIA Standards and Recommended Practices in an expeditious manner and support associated capacity building efforts to ensure the timely implementation of CORSIA.
Airspace modernization is a global challenge with the objective of deploying new technologies to improve both airspace utilization, as well as further enhance safety performance. Failure to make the necessary investments and operational improvements in Air Traffic Management (ATM) infrastructure and services to keep pace with air traffic growth would lead to adverse consequences for the travelling public and the wider economy. This would come in the form of congestion and delays, leading to operational and environmental inefficiencies.
AAPA is renewing the call on Asian governments to commit to further 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. The Association urges governments to think beyond national borders and commit to the development and implementation of enhanced Asia Pacific air traffic flow management systems.
Almost half of all passengers today globally fly through 179 slot-coordinated airports, of which 37 are in the Asia Pacific region, with the number projected to rise as traffic demand continues to grow. Although overall slot coordination is today managed in accordance with well-established global principles, a number of governments and slot coordinators have been known to deviate these processes, adversely affecting the efficiency and predictability of airline operations to the detriment of the travelling public.
AAPA calls on governments and slot coordinators to optimize the use of scarce airport capacity by managing the allocation of slots in an independent, transparent, fair and non-discriminatory manner in line with ICAO guidance and established international standards and procedures, recognising the benefits of a single, globally harmonised process involving all stakeholders to optimise efficiency and predictability of airline operations.
Passenger Facilitation and Privacy Laws
Enhanced border control measures have been adopted by many governments in response to perceived threats to national security. Such measures include the use of advanced technologies, including biometrics and machine-readable travel documents, and the mandatory provision of detailed information about passengers in the form of Advance Passenger Information (API) requirements, which have proved effective in helping to streamline passenger and crew processing, whilst strengthening border security.
An increasing number of governments are mandating the provision of additional detailed information about passengers from Passenger Name Records (PNR), and in some cases, data elements not contained in the PNR. Requirements to share such passenger data may, however, violate applicable privacy laws in various jurisdictions. Consequently, airlines face difficulties in reconciling conflicts between demands for PNR data by governments and compliance with applicable privacy laws in multiple jurisdictions, resulting in potential liability issues.
AAPA calls on governments to recognize the international legal implications arising from the provision of PNR data by airlines, taking into consideration the need for airlines to comply with a multiplicity of privacy laws across different jurisdictions. In addition, the Association calls on governments to engage in greater cross-border cooperation, including the conclusion of bilateral agreements, so as to provide legal certainty to airlines on the provision of PNR data before implementation of such measures. Finally, AAPA calls on government agencies to work with all industry stakeholders, including airlines, to allow for sufficient time for the implementation of any new border control measures.
Taxes and Charges
Airlines and the travelling public today already bear the burden of numerous taxes and charges imposed by governments, monopolistic service providers and other agencies. Despite past exhortations, taxes have been increasingly imposed by various States 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. A number of governments have recently introduced or increased taxes on air travel including Australia's Passenger Movement Charge, Malaysia's Advance Passenger Information (API) charge, and Sri Lanka's Embarkation Tax.
AAPA renews the 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 further in calling on governments to avoid the imposition of unjustified or discriminatory taxes on international aviation, in contravention of ICAO policies.