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

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' 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.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs