China has shown remarkable leadership in liberalising its air transport market and Europe and the USA should follow its example, says IATA director general Giovanni Bisignani. With a market that has seen 30% growth this year, China has a clear vision for its liberalisation policy, he says, and is also supporting IATA's efforts to save money by opening more direct routes over the country.

The Chinese authorities are considering allowing eight entry points into its airspace to support cross-polar tracks instead of the current three. In July China announced the opening of a shorter connecting route for flights into Hong Kong from the north-west. It is located between two existing routes, and talks are continuing on the possibility of adding another route further north. These improvements could save as much as 30min flight time for arriving and departing aircaft.

Bisignani adds that the failure of the EU and USA to agree an open aviation area is a huge disappointment but he hopes the recent US elections and the arrival of a new European Commission (EC) will reinvigorate the process. He is scathing in his criticism of the EC's approach to the aviation industry so far, saying Europe "lacks a clear vision and is obsessed with micro-management. It implements legislation that hits both the industry and its passengers."

At its annual assembly in June, IATA announced four major projects as part of its Simplifying the Business initiative: 100% e-ticketing by 2007; common use self-service kiosks; barcoded boarding passes and radio frequency identification for baggage.

"So far, 80 airlines are well on the way towards implementing e-ticketing," says Bisignani, which already accounts for 17% of all settlements cleared through IATA. The target for 2005 is for 40% of IATA interline transactions to be via e-ticketing. At a recent IATA board meeting it was agreed to go further and aim for paperless cargo as well, which, if achieved, would save the industry $1 billion.


Source: Airline Business