Asia’s airports are struggling to cope with booming traffic growth
More than a thousand delegates from airlines and airports across the globe were tearing their hair out on Sentosa Island in November… and for good reason. They had gathered for the 137th International Air Transport Association (IATA) Slot Conference, a bi-annual smorgasbord of delicate negotiation to decide who gets what in the way of critical landing and takeoff slots at airports around the world. Their job is getting tougher by the day, especially when it comes to Asia Pacific, now officially the world’s largest airline market.
The problem is simple to explain. Congestion is now one of the primary challenges facing carriers in the region and it is going to get a lot worse before it gets better. There just aren’t enough runways or gates – or landing and takeoff slots – to accommodate the rapidly increasing number of passenger jets being thrown into the sky. According to Airbus’s latest forecast that will amount to 12,470 new passenger and freight aircraft worth A$2. 8 trillion in Asia, 40 per cent of total worldwide demand over the next 20 years. Boeing thinks the number will be even higher, at 14,330 planes, with 6,630 heading for China alone. And estimates are that 70 per cent of these will be for growth, not replacement.
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