IATA urges China to further develop air transport infrastructure

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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called on China to keep investing in air transport infrastructure.

IATA director general and chief executive Tony Tyler notes that China wants to increase its share of world trade to 15% from 10.4% and that "aviation connectivity" is key to meeting this goal.

"Already it is prioritising investments in airport and air navigation infrastructure," says Tyler. "The challenge is to keep pace with rapidly growing demand, based on the global standards which underpin safe and efficient global connectivity."

Tyler was speaking at the China Civil Aviation Development Forum 2012 in Beijing.

The IATA chief specified two areas for infrastructure development. First, air navigation infrastructure must keep up with demand and growing airport capacity.

"IATA has worked very successfully with China to open new entry points to Chinese airspace and create more flexibility in cooperation with the military," says Tyler.

"However, the challenge is growing daily as travel demand increases, leading to frustration and delays for airline passengers. The more flexibility we have in how we use and share airspace with the military as well as between domestic and international flights, the better we will be able to manage growth and meet passenger expectations."

Second, Tyler commended China's prioritising plans for how to develop its Beijing air hub, noting that Beijing Capital International Airport is the now the world's second busiest airport in terms of passenger numbers.

He believes the best option for increasing its capacity is to expand the airport on its existing site. If, however, a second airport is deemed necessary, a clear demarcation between the roles of the two Beijing airports will be necessary, in consultation with the airlines.

Tyler also touched on exceptionally high fuel costs and air navigation charges in China.

"Bringing those costs in line with global levels will benefit Chinese carriers more than any others and will thereby help to make them more competitive," he says.

"We also need to eliminate the differential in charges between Chinese and foreign carriers that is unacceptable under International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) policies. This move will also help Chinese carriers improve their competitiveness by forcing them to compete on a more level playing field."

Finally, Tyler expressed support for China's staunch opposition to the EU Emissions Trading Scheme.

"We believe that EU's unilateral action is in contravention of the Chicago Convention. And I fully understand why China views this as an attack on its sovereignty. Nobody wants a trade war. We continue to urge a solution through the ICAO process."