Thursday, December 4, 2014

Asian Airlines Call for Sanity on Safety and Health Pandemics

Neelam Mathews
Dec 3, 2014

Steeped in the heat of intense competition, Asia-Pacific airlines must now confront additional challenges related to safety and health pandemics. With the loss of Malaysia Airlines flights MH370 and MH17 earlier this year, it came as no surprise that safety became the prime focus at the recent 58th Assembly of Presidents of Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) in Tokyo.
The 16-member AAPA, which recently added Air Astana to its membership base, articulates views on common areas of interest of airlines in the region that jointly fly 5,911 aircraft, carrying 31 percent of global passenger traffic and generating $163 billion in annual revenues.
AAPA urges governments to improve efforts in the sharing of accurate intelligence and information related to flight safety on a global basis and to support the development of an augmented distribution system for the enhanced sharing of conflict zone risk information,” said Andrew Herdman Director General, AAPA, who also emphasized the need for improved practices on aircraft tracking.
Among the first carriers to act, Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines have begun evaluating technology to track aircraft movement. The study involves merging SITA’s airline dispatch center system and airline operations center system (AIRCOM) server with the Future Air Navigation System (Fans) ground application, available to ANS providers. Since many airlines have installed Fans in their aircraft, the solution does not call for extensive additional cost or investment, said a SITA official.
“We can confirm that we are working together with SITA on trials related to aircraft tracking. However, at this early stage we are unable to share specific details on the progress of those trials,” a Singapore Airlines spokesperson told AIN.
Meanwhile, AAPA has engaged in vociferous criticism of “uncoordinated and reactive restrictions” introduced by governments in a politically charged response to the Ebola virus. Asia, a major tourism inbound market, could lose business as a result. Herdman has asked governments to “seriously consider the implications of travel advisories.”  He added that governments should direct resources to outbound screening rather than after the passenger arrived at his or her destination.
AAPA has recommended governments “coordinate contingency planning measures,” while avoiding actions that would disproportionately affect the airline industry.

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