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Harmonise region’s rules for flying

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August 1st 2022

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When crisis hits the airline industry there are always lessons to be learned. Read More » In the case of the last two years of pandemic horror, smart operators have, as usual, been resilient. They have re-engineered and restructured their businesses. Losses continue and debt levels are at unprecedented heights, but the industry is better prepared for the assault of a next crisis.

And there may be another benefit for the industry from the pandemic. For decades, a thorn in the side of smooth airline operations in the Asia-Pacific has been the failure of the region’s civil aviation authorities to standardize their rules and regulations. For airlines, flying between and across the region’s numerous airspace zones has been a major drain on efficient operations. They are forced to adjust “on the go” as they fly from one country to the next en route to their destinations.

So it was encouraging to learn delegates at the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) 57th Conference of Directors General of Civil Aviation for Asia and Pacific Regions – the first in-person gathering of the body for more than two years – largely agreed it is critical civil aviation bodies increase the co-operation they have developed during the pandemic to simplify the rules of flying across the region.

Held at Incheon in South Korea, “Strengthening Regional Cooperation for the Restoration of Air Network with No Country Left Behind” also was attended by observers from industry bodies such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Airports Council International Asia-Pacific.

IATA regional vice president, Asia-Pacific, Philip Goh, was optimistic when summing up the mood of the meeting. “Throughout the conference, the need for cooperation was a strong recurring theme,” he said.

But will such aims lead to more harmonization in the region? Observers said prospects for region-wide standardized operating regulations are better than they have been in a long time. If this is the case, it might also be an optimum opportunity for Asia-Pacific director generals of civil aviation and the region’s transport ministries to establish a regional body to co-ordinate airspace rules and regulations.

It won’t be easy. It would almost certainly have to be structured on a sub-regional basis, such as Southeast Asia and North Asia. But the benefits of reduced fuel consumption alone make such a body worthy of serious consideration.

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