A lack of infrastructure capacity must be addressed to secure the industry's future.

Manila, airport, airlines, infrastructure

Speaking at the Singapore Airshow Aviation Leadership Summit, Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO, noted in his keynote address that the world's thirst for connectivity will continue to grow.

By 2036, 7.8 billion people are expected to use air transport.

Nearly half—some 3.5 billion trips—will be to, from or within the Asia-Pacific region. And 1.5 billion trips will touch on China.

In many key places, infrastructure is not being built fast enough to meet growing demand

As early as 2022 China will be the largest single aviation market. India is another emerging powerhouse.

But in many key places, infrastructure is not being built fast enough to meet growing demand.

“And there are worrying trends which are increasing costs,” said de Juniac.

“One of these is airport privatizations. We have not found the correct regulatory framework to balance the interests of the investors to turn a profit, with the public interest for the airport to be a catalyst for economic growth.

"All the optimism supporting strong aircraft orders will mean nothing if we don't have the capability to manage traffic in the air and at airports.”

In Asia-Pacific, there is a lack of airport capacity in Bangkok, Jakarta, and Manila.

Meanwhile, Seoul's Incheon Airport is an example of what can be done.

It demonstrates great understanding of the role aviation plays in linking the Korean economy to economic opportunities globally

Runway and terminal capacity has been added without raising charges for airlines and passengers. In fact, an airport charges discount has been extended.

“It demonstrates great understanding of the role aviation plays in linking the Korean economy to economic opportunities globally,” said de Juniac.

In Singapore, Changi Airport has extensive expansion plans, including Terminal 5 (T5). But there are challenges.

The prize to keep in sight is the airport's contribution to Singapore's overall economy

Reports suggest there are plans to introduce a tax on passengers as well as an airport charges increase to fund the new terminal’s construction.

The airline industry does not support pre-funding to finance in advance infrastructure projects.

“We must ensure the plans for T5 are robust enough to meet the high standards of airline operations and passenger convenience users of Changi Airport have come to expect,” said de Juniac.

“And we need to get the funding model right to avoid burdening the industry with extra costs.

"The prize to keep in sight is the airport's contribution to Singapore's overall economy.”

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