The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has urged Asia to take a greater leadership role in shaping the global aviation industry, with director-general/chief executive officer, Giovanni Bisignani, saying that the region has great airlines, great markets and a great enthusiasm for innovation.
"Asia's growing importance is defining a new leadership role.
"The US and Europe had led the industry's development with a common vision on technical issues, but short-sighted politics has robbed them of the leadership role on liberalisation.
"And that is an opportunity that cannot be missed for this region," he said at the Asia-Pacific Aviation Media Association's Aviation Lecture here today.
He said Asia was a big part of the aviation world.
"By 2010, intra-Asia traffic will be the largest market in the world, accounting for one third of the world's traffic. Critical mass comes with leadership responsibilities," he said.
He identified three opportunities for Asian leadership in the industry namely, in technology, policy and the environment.
Bisignani said there was a need to use technology to simplify passenger travel and improve air traffic management.
"While some Asian countries are already using biometrics for immigration processing, these programmes are targeted at local residents and are not linked systematically.
"Effective systems are needed to handle the additional 250 million passengers passing through Asian airports in 2010. Asian governments have an opportunity to link their systems to make Asia a world model for a new way of travel," he said.
Bisignani called on Asia to develop a regional policy approach to industry issues, such as safety and liberalisation.
"Governments are responsible for safety. However, not all governments in Asia are at the same level in safety oversight," he said.
On the environment, he said, the average age of the Asian aircraft fleet was 10 years compared with the global average of 12, making Asia's aircraft more fuel-efficient and environment-friendly.
"The challenge for Asia is to avoid the crisis in Europe and communicate more effectively on the environment, and to continue to invest in fuel-efficient technology as the industry grows," he said.
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