Innovative Asian airlines are leading the industry into a new era, following the upheaval of the global economic slowdown.
This is the view of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA), which is gathering in Hong Kong this week for its annual Assembly of Presidents.
Addressing media on the opening day of the event, AAPA director-general, Andrew Herdman, said that the success of the passenger airline industry, which is growing at an annual rate of around 5%, is “remarkable”, given the global economic conditions. And much of this is due to the innovation of airlines.
“Wherever you look across the spectrum, people are investing in the new aircraft, new configurations, new service offerings. There are upgrades or first and business class products, premium economy and economy products,” Herdman said. “And then [airlines are looking at] tighter density seating, seat pitch, width, and what the trade-off is between seat cost and seat comfort.
“Wherever you look you find people experimenting… and Asia is the focal point of a lot of interesting innovation, both in terms of business models and customer service,” he added.
This is also leading to “blurred distinctions” between the low-cost and full-service models, with all airlines watching, and to an extent, copying each other. And all this, according to Herdman, bodes well for the future of the region’s airlines.
“Asia Pacific carriers have good reason to be optimistic. Having tightly controlled costs and invested heavily in the latest generation of fuel-efficient aircraft in recent years, airlines from the region are well equipped to compete vigorously amongst themselves and with carriers from outside the region,” said Herdman. “Achieving a broader recovery in the air freight business of Asian carriers is a more prolonged process, which will very much depend on world trade growth rates returning to more normal levels.”
The AAPA Assembly of Presidents will continue tomorrow, and Travel Daily will have all the latest news and updates, both online at www.traveldalymedia.com/asia and in Monday’s edition of Travel Daily Asia.