The Asian Aerospace Congress will open this morning with a special executive session that will focus on the critical issues impacting on Asia Pacific’s fast-moving aviation market.

Each day the Congress will have a specific theme that tackles important issues, including air transport strategy, air transport operations and aerospace technology.

More than 400 delegates are expected to attend today’s opening executive sessions, which will feature speakers at ministerial and director general level. This will include a welcome address by Eva Cheng, transport and housing secretary of the Hong Kong SAR Government and one of the most powerful women in the region.

Eva Cheng

Cheng will underline the Hong Kong government’s commitment to maintaining the special administrative region’s position as an international and regional aviation centre, through expanding their air services network, further developing Hong Kong International Airport and promoting safety and efficiency in air transport. Cheng will add that with Asia emerging as the world’s fastest-growing aviation market, the Congress provides the perfect platform for topical discussion and debate.

Following Cheng, the outlook for air transport in China will be discussed by Wang Changshun, vice-minister, general administration of Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). Changshun, former president of China Southern Airline Holdings, will underline how the Chinese civil aviation industry has sustained rapid development.

Indeed, new airports are needed in China, as traffic growth rates have been phenomenal, with domestic air traffic doubling roughly every five years. In recent years, China’s total air traffic turnover has more than doubled the world average. The Chinese government’s latest five-year plan for economic development, which runs until 2010, aims to invest around $18.5 billion in airport development, during which more than 40 all-new airports will be built. There are now approximately 140 airports in the country, but by 2010 there are expected to be 186, and 220 by 2020.

Also speaking will be Zhang Hongbiao, executive vice-president and president of China Aviation Industry Corporation II, Hu Wenming, executive vice-president, China Aviation Industry Corporation I, and Li Benjian, division director, Department System Engineering III, Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence, who will all talk about the outlook for China’s aerospace industry and the experience of working in partnership with the West.

Among the speakers on the opening morning will be Dr Krishnadas Nair, president of the Society of Indian Aerospace Technologies and Industries (SIATI) and former chairman of Hindustan Aeronautics, who will be talking about the outlook for air transport in India and touching on the future of aerospace technology in the country.

Dr Nair’s comments are particularly relevant. The rapidly emerging regional power is set to introduce a new civil aviation policy designed to provide the framework for further development of the airline sector over the next 5-10 years, following huge growth over the past three years. The new policies should also boost growth in the air cargo market.

Later in the afternoon session, John McCulloch, managing partner of Oneworld Alliance, will present on the topic of Asian alliances in Asia Pacific. Mr McCulloch, based in Vancouver, was previously head of group marketing at HSBC and started his career in aviation with Cathay Pacific.

John McCulloch

Oneworld, which includes some of the biggest names in the industry, serves almost 700 airports in nearly 150 countries, earning annual revenues of more than $90bn. Following McCulloch, delegates will have the opportunity to hear from the OEMs’ viewpoint with a presentation from Larry Dickenson, senior vice-president of sales at Boeing on fleets and the evolving market outlook in Asia Pacific.

Dickenson is well qualified to speak with authority on the subject, as prior to his current role, he led Beoing’s commercial aircraft sales push in the Asia Pacific region for more than 20 years. He was responsible for sales operations in China, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and other markets. During this time, Dickenson’s team was integral to the launch of the Boeing 787 and 777 jetliners.

A financial and investment outlook in Asia Pacific will be presented by Robert Martin, chief executive officer of BOC Aviation. Prior to being purchased by Bank of China, BOC Aviation was Singapore Aircraft Leasing. The Asia-based aircraft leasing company provides fleet solutions, including sale and leaseback facilities for single aisle and wide-body aircraft types, third party lease management and structured finance services.

In the afternoon of today’s Congress three executives from Asia Pacific-based airlines will give delegates their very own take on the challenges facing their businesses.

Jaime Bautista, president and chief operating officer of Philippine Airlines will give a frank presentation entitled, bucking the odds; Steve Miller, chief executive officer of Oasis Hong Kong Airlines, will outline the changing face of long-haul travel; and Peter Negline, chief financial officer of Tiger Airways, will talk about challenges for new airline business models.

As well as opportunities for delegates to network in-between the sessions, a CEO debate will be chaired by Andrew Herdman, director general, Association of Asia Pacific Airlines – ending what will be a strong opening session of the three-day event.

Asian Aerospace’s sales and marketing chief Clive Richardson said of the Congress: “It’s all about business. That’s why the congress element is so significant. Companies know they are going there to meet movers and shakers in the region in a convivial, business environment, rather than the random surroundings of an air show. People have bought into the rationale and are looking forward to a different model.”

Alongside in conjunction with the Asian Aerospace Congress are two other events: Air Freight Asia and the Asia Pacific Airline Training Symposium (APATS). Tomorrow’s Congress will cover air transport operations and Wednesday's will look at aerospace technology. Check out tomorrow’s Flight Daily News for full coverage.

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Source: Flight Daily News