Asia faces air travel infrastructure ‘crisis,’ industry’s trade body says

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Oct 26 2017 02:01 AM | Updated as of Oct 26 2017 08:21 AM

People walk by at the transit area of Changi Airport in Singapore. The Asia-Pacific region must urgently step up investment in infrastructure to meet rapidly increasing demand for air travel, the global airline industry's trade body said Wednesday. Edgar Su, Reuters

The Asia-Pacific region must urgently step up investment in infrastructure to meet rapidly increasing demand for air travel, the global airline industry's trade body said Wednesday.

"We are headed for a major infrastructure crisis," said Alexandre de Juniac, head of the International Air Transport Association.

He said the 34 million jobs and $700 billion of economic activity supported by aviation across the Asia-Pacific region are expected to more than double in the next 20 years. 

"But the realization of these economic benefits is at risk if the region does not address the big long-term challenges of sustainability, infrastructure and regulatory harmonization," said de Juniac, speaking at an industry conference held in Taiwan, according to an IATA statement.

The number of passengers is expected to nearly double in the next two decades according to IATA's latest forecasts, with half of that growth expected to be in the Asia-Pacific region, meaning it faces a "difficult challenge" in ensuring the development of adequate infrastructure.

While a number of airports have plans in place, de Juniac said others such as Bangkok, Manila and Jakarta are among those that need major upgrades.

He also said Chinese air traffic management is struggling to cope with growth, while high costs at India's privatized airports are burdening the industry.

De Juniac also warned against seeing privatization as the solution to fund infrastructure investments. 

"We have no issue with injecting private sector mentality into the operation of any airport," he said.

"But our conclusion from three decades of largely disappointing experiences with airport privatization tells us airports perform better in public hands," said de Juniac.