News / Asia

Asia’s Aviation Industry Booms

Passengers wait at airline counters at Hong Kong's international airport, Sept. 23, 2013.
Passengers wait at airline counters at Hong Kong's international airport, Sept. 23, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Ron Corben
— Across Southeast Asia, rising incomes over the last decade have been a boon for the aviation industry, and new low-cost passenger airlines are experiencing record growth. Bangkok is experiencing growing pains as it races to build airports and aviation infrastructure, train tens of thousands of new pilots, while keeping safety standards high.
 
In the first eight months of 2013 industry trade groups say more than 138 million passengers were carried by Asia Pacific airlines in the region - a rise of five percent over the last year.
 
Sydney-based Center for Asia Pacific Aviation said this growth is being driven by low cost air carrier companies, which accounted for more than half of all seats in 2012. A decade ago, there were none.
 
Martin Craig, chief executive officer for the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), said Asia's growing middle class is pushing the demand for travel. 

"This massive increase in intra-Asian tourism and air travel is simply driven by the fact that so many more people are going into the so-called 'middle-class' status with discretionary income and one of the first things they want to spend their hard earned spare cash is on going overseas," said Craig.
 
South East Asia's middle class, now estimated at around 500 million people, is expected to reach as many as 1.7 billion by 2030. But Craig said even these projections may be too conservative.
 
To fly all of those passengers, industry analysts say they will need to train nearly 200,000 pilots.
 
Analysts say the main maturing domestic air travel markets are Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand which collectively have 25 low cost carriers in operation, and more on the way.
 
Industry analyst Brendan Sobie, said Laos, Burma and Vietnam are considered "frontier markets" with huge potential for growth. He said in Vietnam, passenger growth is running in the double digits.
 
"Being a frontier emerging market and having a lot of economic activity in Vietnam - so it has some catch up to do in order to approach some of the other markets in South East Asia - from a growth and low cost penetration standpoint we're starting to see that catching up now taking place and IATA sees Vietnam as one of the three largest growing markets in the world in next few years," Sobie said.
 
In Burma, the number of available seats on passenger planes out of the main airport in Rangoon has roughly doubled in the past two years.
 
As airlines rush to meet the rising demand, analysts say safety needs to be at the heart of the industry. But safety standards across the region remain uneven.
 
Earlier this month a Lao Airlines plane crashed into the Mekong river during a heavy rain storm, killing all 49 people aboard.
 
The passengers and crew hailed from 10 nations, and the crash was the deadliest air disaster for Lao Air since 1954.
 
In Burma in 2012, four aircraft were involved in major accidents. As the country experiences a surge in tourists eager to visit the once-closed nation, some groups are raising alarm that the industry is expanding too quickly. The U.S. State Department has warned travelers to Burma that the air industry’s safety record and oversight remains closed to outside scrutiny.
 
Industry analysts such as credit ratings agency Standard and Poors says there are uneven infrastructure and training standards across the region. In some cases, the pace of development may be outstripping the ability of officials to ensure safety standards and adequate infrastructure.
 
For Center for Asia Pacific Aviation's Brendan Sobie,  the challenge lies in countries ensuring sufficient infrastructure to cope with the rising demand and passenger arrivals. 

"The country and airports that don't invest basically lose out on the traffic to other airports and countries. That of course creates an incentive to invest," he said. "Unfortunately, there's a huge lag; it takes a long time to build an airport and build a runway and build a terminal and what happens is that sometimes the growth is just very rapid, they just get behind the curve and we're seeing some of the governments now racing to catch up to that."
 
With tourism and trade surging in developing countries of Southeast Asia, much is at stake in how governments handle the growth and respond to concerns about safety.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid