Thursday, August 26, 2010

IATA Air Freight Figures Look Promising - For Now

Association Sets out Plans for the Future Down Under
Shipping News Feature

WORLDWIDE - Giovanni Bisignani, Director General and CEO of IATA the international air transport association, has been visiting Australia this week and took the opportunity to lay out what his organisation thinks of the air transport industry, present and future, in the region at a key time for the country given the uncertainty following the election result.

Mr Bisignani pointed out the increased airport costs, in ten years Sydney has moved from the 34th most costly airport in the world to 9th position, and in a thinly disguised dig at the management talked of ‘abuse of monopolistic positions’. In an address to the Australian National Aviation Press Club he said:

“Aviation contributes 500,000 jobs and A$6.3 billion to the Australian economy. It is critical that the next Australian government has a solid aviation policy to reap the broad economic benefits that aviation can generate.

“We have had over 50 years of studies on a new airport for Sydney. Whether you believe Sydney Airport will run out of capacity in 10 years or 20 years, a decision is now critical. Even 20 years is a tight timeline to build a new airport and the infrastructure to connect it to the central business district. Already 6% of the New South Wales economic activity is connected to the airport. We need a decision on a plan to maximize the capabilities of the current airport and to determine a location and timeline for the new airport. It is essential to ensure that the airport has the capacity to continue to effectively play its important role in the economy,”

The IATA boss continued in a critical vein when speaking of what he termed Australia’s outdated ownership restrictions for international aviation:

“Australia is a leader in aviation liberalization. The open aviation area with New Zealand has achieved what the US and Europe could not in their open skies discussions. And the removal ownership restrictions for domestic Australian operations benefited consumers with greater choice and lower prices. These results make the 49% foreign ownership cap for international operators very difficult to understand.”

Bisignani also reminded his audience that Australia’s avowed intention to cap emissions with carbon-neutral growth from 2020 and to cut them in half by 2050 compared to 2005 levels was laudable but cautioned that the air industry knew no boundaries and that policies should be coordinated with other countries to ensure a level playing field for all.

Further on in his speech Mr Bisignani laid out the relevant traffic figures for air freight with international scheduled freight traffic showing a 22.7% improvement in July against last years figures and up 4% against 2008, before the financial crisis bit. Europe improved comparatively poorly in the July comparison, only a 12.1% against 25.3% in the Asia Pacific region and 27.1% in North America.

There was a warning however not to get carried away by the increases, IATA believe that the rise in cargo levels was largely due to customers restocking whilst breathing a sigh of relief that business continued regardless of the downturn. Unless the recovery continues apace IATA feel that there may well be a general slowdown for the remainder of the year.

Photo : Giovanni Bisignani