Airlines are battling to eliminate inefficiencies that cost them $6.5 billion a year as part of an International Air Transport Association-led campaign to simplify operational procedures.


An early aim is to win more direct routes through the airspace of the Russian Federation, Mongolia and China, and agree massively simplified approaches and departures for Hong Kong.

Also under way is a drive to persuade former Soviet Bloc countries and China and Mongolia to adopt feet instead of metres as the standard unit of altitude, says IATA operations and safety chief Günther Matschnigg. Having just returned from route improvement negotiations in Moscow last week, Matschnigg does not expect immediate agreement, but believes approval of the change will benefit those countries and the airlines.

IATA has already won new routes across CIS territory, allowing over-the-pole services from North America to India and South-East Asia, and between Europe and the Far East, but Matschnigg says IATA is looking for more and better routeings there too.

Cathay Pacific Airways has been trialling proposed new let-downs and departures for Hong Kong since October, says Matschnigg, and tests have shown significant fuel-usage reductions with associated cost, time and environmental benefits (see map). Most of the issues still to be overcome before approval are political, he says, relating to the close proximity of Hong Kong, China and Macao airspace.

The total package of measures, which could save airlines $6.5 billion a year, also includes non-operational measures such as the replacement of paper tickets with e-ticketing; the adoption of common use self-service check-in units; a universal bar-coded boarding card system; and radio-frequency identification baggage tags.


Source: Flight International