September 23, 2008

Air Passenger Growth to Pick Up in 2010

By Hamisah Hamid

BOSTON: The growth in air passengers will slow over the next two years due to economic uncertainties but this is due to pick up in 2010, a global body of airport operators said.

"Global passenger volumes are predicted to surpass the five billion mark by 2009, reaching 11 billion - or 30 million passengers per day - by 2027," said Angela Gittens, director-general of Airports International Council (ACI).

In the past few years, the aviation industry has steadily resumed its pre-September 11 recovery.

Demand for international travel was strong last year as airports reported record traffic. Globally, they handled 4.8 billion passengers and 88.5 million tonnes of cargo.

"However, 2008 saw a slowing trend in consumer demand," she said. This was due to a general economic slowdown, high fuel prices, ageing fleets and growing customer dissatisfaction with delays at congested hubs, among others.

The ACI, representing 580 airport operators managing over 1,640 airports in 175 countries, said the present challenge will not be overcome with superficial or short-term measures.

"The effects of the deteriorating business environment are diverse and complex and one-size-fits-all solutions are neither applicable nor adequate to mitigate the challenges faced by airports and their stakeholders," ACI said in its resolutions adopted at the 18th World annual general assembly here on Monday.

Gittens said many airports around the world have been affected by airlines modifying their routes, consolidating services and retiring aircraft.

However, airports must maintain their commitment and provide the infrastructure that is critical to their business to meet current and future needs of airlines.

At the same time, airports must also ensure that their partners understand their constraints and horizons.

"As we have seen with past extraordinary economic pressures that had challenged this industry, long-term demand for air service has proven to be resilient.

"The aviation industry will have high and low points depending on a host of global forces; airlines will come and go.

"Airports are the community's infrastructure and economic engine, no matter who owns or operates the facilities," Gittens said.

(c) 2008 New Straits Times. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.