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ICAO, World Bank & Routes Global Strategy Summit 2009, Beijing-China

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ICAO, World Bank & Routes Global Strategy Summit 2009, Beijing-China
» Reports 24/10/2009

Civil Aviation Today

Moderator: Mr John Strickland, Director, JLS Consulting

Aviation is facing its most severe test on all fronts-economic, fuel, capacity and environmental challenges are all present at the same time. The panellists highlighted the challenges from the perspective of regulator, airports, airlines and manufacturer.

There was a recognition that the industry is very much like a large family with many of its own internal squabbles and arguments. Equally it was recognised that there needs to be a better understanding and sharing of mutual issues if the industry is to combat the challenges it faces.

Views shared included the need for investment for the long term and the need to fight for a reduction in restrictive legislation which is inhibiting the industry’s ability to contribute to the global economy.

Optimism was expressed that the industry will recover from the current recessionary climate, new aircraft will be ordered and growth will resume. The important role of emerging and expanding economies such as China was acknowledged as fundamental to the industry’s future well being

Technology to Transform our Industry

Moderator: Mr John Strickland, Director, JLS Consulting

Technological change is moving at a rapid pace in the industry to improve service, increase efficiency and reduce costs. In particular we learned of the widening array of uses to which mobile phones can be put ranging from making a booking to checking in, to being updated on flight status and potentially to pass through security. There are a number of technical issues to address concerning reliability and compatibility but progress is being made. Evidence was presented showing how much passengers want to reduce the time taken and the stress and irritation of many of the stages which they have to “endure” in order to take a flight. One area of concern which was raised was the level of willingness of security and immigration enforcement agencies to go along with the technical advances to improve passenger experience, they don’t share the same imperative to do so unlike the airlines and airports.

We learned too about the efforts of industry body IATA to simplify the business process and gained an architect’s insight into the building of new airport terminal infrastructure which combines good passenger experience with efficiency and low cost: low cost doesn’t have to mean a nasty experience and conversely a pleasant terminal environment doesn’t have to be expensive

The Safety & Security Challenges

Moderator: Mr Aaron Heslehurst, News Anchor & Presenter, BBC World Television

A very dynamic panel that enthusiastically launched straight into the safety and security challenges facing today’s industry. The session started with a very clear message. That message: the number ONE priority for airlines and in fact for the aviation industry as a whole – is SAFETY & SECURITY!

And because it’s the number ONE priority – air travel is and continues to be the safest form of travel that exists. The fatality rate for air travel in 2008 was at its lowest level since 2004. One accident for every 1.2 million flights. But of course – the 502 people who lost their lives in 2008 due to an aircraft accident must surely remind the industry of the need for constant vigilance.

Nobody disagrees the perfect target for the industry – it certainly is the IATA target – and that is zero accidents – zero fatalities.

Dr Charles E Schlumberger from The World Bank raised a very provocative statement: Charles told those attending that the major challenge to air safety and security is not the lack of funds, training, equipment or infrastructure, it is the absence of the political will to establish, maintain, and enforce agreed international standards! The statement initially raised many an eyebrow – but for the most part was accepted with many agreeing.

The World Bank agrees that higher safety standards have been reached – but not everywhere. In particular problems still exist in Africa, Latin America and South America.

In these regions and again in particular in Africa – the World Bank believes the lack of remuneration, the lack of inconsistency in the industry leads to a complete lack of will.

ICAO echoed this point by saying that given the current state of the industry – in terms of generating low yields and contributing relatively less to state revenues – then middle income and even lower middle income economies have great difficulties in finding resources necessary to safely & securely sustain an expanding and even more demanding sector – even though it’s vital to their economies.

The panel and those in the audience agreed to the very important point made – that every dollar invested by these richer States is of lesser value if at the other end of the flight – similar efforts are not made.
In concluding – the panel agreed that the next and greatest threat to aviation today will not be from within the aircraft – but from a possible airport security incursion.

Of course one hour is not enough to cover a topic of this magnitude – but all agreed that civil aviation facilities and services must keep up with technological development if accident rates are to be brought down.

Environmental Challenges for the Civil Aviation Industry

Moderator: Mr Aaron Heslehurst, News Anchor & Presenter, BBC World Television

I found this second session topic very interesting given I had a day earlier moderated Safety & Security. Interesting because ENVIRONMENTAL responsibility – alongside safety & security, remains a CORE promise for the aviation industry. Even in the face of this global economic downturn.

I thought it important to start with the positives aviation brings to the world – despite the industry coming under attack from Governments and certain lobbying groups around the world.

And I say that – because let’s remind ourselves of just some of the facts & figures:

Airlines contribute 2% of global CO2 emissions.

12% of CO2 within the transport sector.

Compared to 74% from road transport in that same sector.

But here are the facts: the commercial aviation industry generates 32 million jobs. It carries 1.2 billion passengers annually. It improves global productivity. The global economic impact is more than $3,500 billion US dollars. It facilitates global trade. Total value of goods transported by air is 35% of all international trade. But of course nobody disagrees with the fact that global warming is an extremely important issue.

The panel took the audience through the how the industry demonstrates its commitment as a responsible industry which take