The 15-member Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA), which addresses a wide range of issues of common interest to the region’s aviation industry, is focusing its efforts on extending its membership base to South Asia–to include the time zones between GMT+5 to GMT+12, extended from the previous GMT+7 to GMT+12.
“In 2014 we will be approaching more Indian carriers. They are welcome. [While] Jet Airways has shown interest, it has not as yet approached us for membership,” Andrew Herdman, director general of AAPA, told AIN. Jet Airways’ recent restructuring, following the establishment of a strategic alliance with Etihad Airways completed last November, is likely keeping the airline management busy, said Herdman. AAPA has also held discussions with the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) of India, with the goal of “overcoming bureaucracy,” Herdman said.
While he commented that AAPA has approached carriers on the Indian subcontinent, including in Bhutan and Pakistan, Herdman was not forthcoming in response to a query about China’s membership. Taiwanese carriers that are already AAPA members could well be a gray area, he suggested, noting that, for the moment, airlines may not be knocking at AAPA’s door. Herdman also acknowledged that Indian carriers “[have] had their own internal problems with the regulator and [are] presently focusing on internal issues.” He added, however, “With more Indian carriers flying abroad, many issues will be common.”
He said AAPA is also looking at budget carriers in the region, “who attend our security-related meetings. We’d want them to be members as well.” With budget carriers having an increasing presence in the region–for example, seven of AAPA’s scheduled airline members have budget subsidiaries–the association is hoping to get a first-movers’ response from them. “We view those subsidiaries and associates as de facto members, anyway…their parent companies share information. We have thought about additional incremental costs [for budget carriers], which will be very modest and we won’t expect them to pay an individual share,” said Herdman.
Addressing some of the issues currently facing its members, Herdman noted that inasmuch as India and China are leading the charge and standing up vociferously to the emissions trading scheme, it is likely that AAPA will want to piggyback on them. “While Asia Pacific airlines are demonstrating strong commercial leadership in a competitive global market, we are also keen to
play a more active role in shaping international aviation policies, through engagement with ICAO and major regulatory authorities…The EU is jeopardizing airspace proposals [requiring] international cooperation,” said Herdman.
A recommendation at AAPA’s 57th Assembly of Presidents, held in Hong Kong in November, addressed aviation environment policy. “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 [again] extend the EU ETS to European airspace has been met with incredulity and disbelief,” said Herdman. “AAPA is convinced the interests of Asia Pacific carriers, and the industry as a whole are best served by a global solution, not a patchwork of national or regional schemes that will only distort the market.”
Other issues where South Asia could benefit from coming together with existing AAPA members is the concern over lack of infrastructure. AAPA has called on governments to “ensure that air traffic management capacity keeps pace with commercial air traffic growth, working with the military authorities where necessary to alleviate airspace usage limitations and constraints.”
AAPA’s workshops and white papers on safety, security, infrastructure constraints, passenger facilitation, environment policy and regulatory challenges faced by the airline industry tie together common threads of concern in the region.
Collectively, AAPA represents approximately one fifth of global passenger traffic and one third of global air cargo traffic.