Air Transport World

Emerging Pacific Basin marked by growth, discontent. (International Civil Aviation Conference)

Emerging Pacific Basin marked by growth, discontent

The fastest-growing airline market in the world is the Pacific Basin, and air carriers in this region are basically unhappy in their dealings with the United States. These were the main sentiments expressed by a mixture of airline executives, U.S. government personnel and other air transportation industry representatives who spoke about the Pacific market at the Lloyd's of London Press International Civil Aviation Conference here in late October.

Some sparks flew as the airlines and the U.S. State Department squared off on current bilateral situations and the widening effects of U.S. deregulation on the nation's international competitors. Overall, however, the mood was upbeat as impressive statistics were cited for passenger and air freight traffic in the Pacific over the last two decades--especially compared with transatlantic numbers--and forecasters predicted continued above-average growth into the next century.

The two-day meeting also dealt with the emergence of China as a major Asian market, the significance of computerized reservation systems in worldwide marketing, the development of longer-range and more efficient aircraft that further enhance Pacific services, Japan's recent "de facto deregulation' move into a multi-carrier international force, and the advent of an airline "consortium' among carriers of South Pacific island nations.

The only truly new idea, perhaps, came from Mitsunari Kawano, managing director of Japan Air Lines, who called for the creation of cooperative "tourist resources' in the Pacific, including the multi-country, joint-effort development of a major hub airport where airline traffic could be better coordinated and distributed.

The sometimes controversial conference was chaired with grace and wit by Sir Lenox Hewitt, head of the State Rail Authority of New South Wales and a director of Ansett Transport Industries. He led off with a description of the Pacific Basin, noting it encompasses one-third of the world's population and has a "real growth in gross national product that is higher by 27% than the rest of the world.'

Other statistics bandied about showed impressive development of Asian nations in the world economy and concurrent growth of air traffic in the Pacific. Since 1979, Pacific traffic has shown an annual growth rate of 7% or better, compared with 5-6% for the North Atlantic and other major market areas. ICAO forecasts that passenger traffic in the region may grow at an average annual rate of 10% through 1992, giving airlines operating there a 33% share of the world's passenger traffic and 37-40% of international air freight. According to IATA, RPKs across the Pacific and within the Far East, 25% less than transatlantic figures in 1984, will equal RPKs across the North Atlantic by the year 2000. …

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