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AAPA highlights government role in infrastructure planning

The Association of Asia Pacific Airlines has highlighted the important role of governments in ensuring that a country has sufficient aviation infrastructure to meet the expected passenger traffic growth.

Pointing to the "extremely congested" Manila Ninoy Aquino International airport, AAPA director-general Andrew Herdman says the government has long been evaluating two possible sites for a new gateway, and that while they are committed to building infrastructure, progress has been slow.

"Political decisions in terms of planning approvals, that's the role that governments have to play – coordinating planning decisions, how to finance it, who finances it… governments have to play a key role in brokering the political decision making on planning positions and the associated ground infrastructure," he says.

He adds that there has been a trend towards public-private partnerships on aviation infrastructure, but that there is a danger of the government having a short-term gain by selling an asset overpriced, with users then having to "ultimately pay too much". There is thus a need to find the right balance.

A situation where investors have to be rewarded for taking on political risks, such as the country's next government not being supportive of the deal, also has to be avoided.

He adds however that countries in the region are all investing heavily in airport infrastructure, with China being "exemplary and ahead of the game".

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