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Regional director, Patti Chau, reflects on the latest traffic trends, new airport infrastructure, ACI Asia-Pacific’s growing influence across the region and some past and future events.

I am pleased to say that the robust, upward momentum in traffic that Asia-Pacific and the Middle East enjoyed in 2017 continued in the first quarter of 2018, with our latest year-on-year statistics showing that passenger numbers across the regions increased by 10.7% and 4% respectively in March.

On an individual airport level, ACI Asia-Pacific gateways now account for five of the top 10 busiest passenger airports in the world (Beijing Capital, Dubai International, Tokyo Haneda, Hong Kong and Shanghai Pudong) and six of the top 10 cargo gateways (Hong Kong, Shanghai Pudong, Incheon, Dubai International, Tokyo Narita and Taiwan Taoyuan).

With growth comes challenges, of course, and as in other parts of the world, airport operators and governments across Asia-Pacific and the Middle East need to invest in new infrastructure that will allow the aviation industry to keep up with demand.

I am, however, happy to say that our region leads the way in addressing this challenge with a number of new capacity-enhancing airport facilities opening in the last 12 months and dozens more planned or under construction.

New infrastructure

Three of the most recent examples include Singapore Changi, which opened its new Terminal 4 last October; Incheon International Airport’s Terminal 2, opened in time for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics earlier this year; and Muscat International Airport’s new terminal which opened in March.

Elsewhere, Hong Kong’s construction of its third runway is in full swing and substantial progress has been made in the large-scale renovations at Haneda and plans for a third runway at Narita, as Tokyo gears up for the Olympic Games in the summer of 2020.

Beijing’s second airport, Daxing, is also expected to start testing operations in October 2019 ahead of a late 2019/early 2020 opening.

In monetary terms, in Asia-Pacific, the big build equates to $156 billion being invested on existing airports and $145 billion on new airport projects. While in the Middle East investments have focused more on expanding existing airports, with $87 billion earmarked for these kind of projects, and another $8 billion for new airports.

Looking at two of the world’s biggest and fastest growing markets, India and China, the Indian government has unveiled plans to develop around 100 airports in the next 15 years, investing an estimated $61.8 billion in the process.

While China has announced plans to increase its number of commercial airports from 229 in 2017 to 260 by 2020, in line with the central government’s aim to have 400 airports by 2035 as part and parcel of the Belt and Road Initiative.

ACI Asia-Pacific’s growing influence

Talking about airports in China, I am pleased to report that we have renewed our agreement with the China Civil Airports Association (CCAA) to strengthen the co-operation between our two associations.

The agreement aims to further our exchange of knowledge and expertise by introducing and promoting ACI programmes to members of CCAA. We also agreed to enhance collaboration on a number of other practical areas.

I believe the agreement will be beneficial not only to airports in China but to our wider membership across the Asia-Pacific region.

Regional Assembly

We were pleased to see a great turnout at our Regional Assembly, Conference and Exhibition in Narita, Japan in April. We welcomed over 500 delegates from over 40 countries to Narita and appreciated the support and contributions of the 50 speakers from all over the world.

Their expertise and insights on a wide range of topics on airport businesses and operations appealed to our delegates and helped make this event a successful one.

I would also like to echo our president, Seow Hiang Lee, in his remarks thanking the host, Narita International Airport Corporation, for their gracious hospitality and tireless efforts to make this event happen.

Next year, the Regional Assembly will be truly global as it coincides with the ACI World Annual General Assembly in Hong Kong. The event, hosted by Airport Authority Hong Kong will take place on April 2-4, 2019.

New resolutions

The Regional Assembly took a unified stance to empower airports’ economic and environmental efforts by adopting two resolutions at the annual meeting.

As one of the most diverse regions in the world, economically and geographically, it is important to recognise that there is no one-size fits all solution on how airports should be run.

Airports should have the flexibility to determine the most appropriate charging system, ownership and management models to best serve and support their communities.

Just as important, airports are encouraged to continue engaging in industry-led sustainable development initiatives such as the Airport Carbon Accreditation programme, waste management and renewable energy strategies, not just as a means of responsibly protecting the environment, but also for achieving cost savings in the long run. You can read more about the two resolutions on our website and we look forward to your support.

Airport economics

I would also like to update you on our advocacy efforts on economic issues. This April and May, the ACI Asia-Pacific and ACI World Economics team visited nine countries within Asia-Pacific and met with governments, regulators and airport members to discuss relevant topics such as Airport Charges, Privatisation, Airport Networks and Slot Allocation.

The countries included Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

In the coming months, the Regional Economics Committee has decided to focus on addressing issues surrounding airport charges. If you need support from the Regional Office, please do not hesitate to contact my team for further assistance.

And finally…

Last, but not least, I would like to call for your participation on the two upcoming events to be held in our region in 2018.

The Small and Emerging Airports Seminar 2018 will be held on October 10-12 in Langkawi, Malaysia, with the aim of gathering the small and emerging airports in the region to discuss some of the challenges and opportunities that they are facing.

Also in October, we have the Trinity Forum in Shanghai, China, co-organised with the Moodie Davitt Report and ACI World and hosted by Shanghai Airport Authority. I hope you can join us at these two exciting events in our region.


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