The aviation industry is urged to prepare for more turbulence in 2009, as the effects of a global recession bite hard across the Asia Pacific region.
The Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) said passenger and cargo demand had already plunged in recent months, with a further deterioration expected for the first half of 2009.
Oil prices may offer a portion of relief, as they are likely to remain subdued providing carriers with room to keep fares competitive and help maintain travel demand at a time of shrinking consumer confidence.
“AAPA carriers remain confident about medium- to long-term growth opportunities in the world’s most dynamic economic region,” AAPA director-general, Andrew Herdman said.
“However, in the short term, airlines are bracing themselves for tough times as the global recession bites hard in 2009.
“Carriers are taking steps to closely match capacity to expected demand, whilst seeking every opportunity to reduce unnecessary costs,” Mr Herdman said.
In the face of a multitude of challenges, the AAPA called on governments, airports and aviation service providers to refrain from putting further financial strain on the aviation industry through excessive taxes and charges.
Government-led aviation security measures were also imperative, the AAPA said, in order to strike a balance between the requirements of national security and the need for efficient cargo facilitation.
It also said where airspace congestion, delays and environmental pressures remained a major challenge for the industry, governments should strive to improve coordination and cooperation with airspace users and air navigation service providers.
The AAPA comprises 17 airlines, which together 10 million tonnes of cargo representing about one-third of global air cargo traffic.