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.
    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

    Greenpeace Leak: US-EU Trade Deal Would Favor Corporations

    Activist group leaks classified documents to 'shine a light' on talks that could create the world's largest bilateral trade and investment pact

    Video Ethiopia's Drought Takes Toll on Children

    East African country’s crops failed in 2015, creating food shortages for 10 million – including 6 million children whose development may be compromised

    What Your First Name Reveals About Who You Vote For

    People named Chad are more likely to be Republicans and Jonathans are usually Democrats

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora