The impact of higher fuel prices and lingering concerns over insurance issues dominated the discussion at the annual meeting of member carriers of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA).

Held in the Taiwanese capital Taipei late in November, senior executives of the 17 member airlines were however generally in good spirits, as the Asian air transport market has been doing exceptionally well, both for passenger and cargo services .

Member airlines were told by new director general Andrew Herdman that they must focus attention on cutting costs and not become complacent. This is in part because of new competition from low-cost airlines making their presence felt in some markets.

Airlines also noted that market conditions can turn quickly, such as in March 2003 when the SARS outbreak began to have a major impact on passenger demand, which plummeted for several months and sparked what the AAPA described as the "worst-ever crisis".

It was essentially fear that prompted the sharp drop in demand, and the AAPA has issued a resolution calling on governments to exercise "care and reasonableness" in issuing travel advisories, not just for health-related matters. These are "often very broad in their scope and indefinite in duration," it says.

Member airlines also expressed concern over a proposal in the insurance market to invoke new aviation insurance war clause exclusions. A resolution was adopted at the meeting "calling on governments to provide appropriate support to the aviation industry in light of the proposal".

Other resolutions adopted included a call for governments to expedite efforts to streamline travel, such as through the adoption of new technologies and biometrics; support for ICAO's position on aircraft emissions; a request for ICAO audits of airports to be made available to airlines; a plea for the decriminalisation of aviation safety investigations; and a demand for "reasoned and cost-effective aviation security".

Member airlines are expected by the association to pass on the resolutions to their home governments. Next year's AAPA assembly will be held in Hong Kong from 24-25 November. 

Source: Airline Business