Air Transport World

ASPA re-emerges to speak for Pacific regional carriers. (Association of South Pacific Airlines)

ASPA re-emerges to speak for Pacific regional carriers Nadi, Fiji--John Schaap paints two opposing pictures of the South Pacific: one is an idyllic, tropical paradise where tourists come to "forget all their worries;" the other is an airline environment filled with primitive nav-aids, World War II ammo dumps hidden beneath thresholds, donkys grazing on runways, a chronic lack of qualified personnel and working capital, and too many civil aviation authorities "in the kitchen."

Schaap, CEO of Fiji's national airline, Air Pacific, is also chairman for the newly revived Association of South Pacific Airlines (ASPA), which started in 1979 to help the smaller regional carriers solve their unique, collective problems. After foundering for many years, ASPA has suddenly come to life again and is finally beginning to fulfill its mandates to promote cooperation among the member airlines and the development of commercial aviation within the rich South Pacific market (see ATW 12/86).

"In other words, we're getting our act together . . . in order to catch our share of the new wave of tourism and air transportation," says ASPA member Michael Childs, general manager of Norfolk (Island) Airlines.

Carrying the hopes of 17 members (with three large airlines backing them as "associates"), ASPA is striving to become a strong force and collective voice for the regional carriers in coordinating internal matters and attracting outside assistance in developing cooperative programs for the group as a whole.

Citing recent development aid received by the members of the African Airlines Association (AFRAA), a similar organization of African regionals, Ian Lennie, general manager of Cook Islands International, says, "The Africans get a lot of help because they have the strength of a lobby ... which is what we are all about in ASPA."

In just a little over a year since its revival in late 1985, ASPA has accomplished much. It has established its first permanent secretariat, at Nadi, Fiji's main international airport, and is supporting a full-time secretary-general who coordinates all activities and keeps programs moving. The organization's first major action--the procurement of funding and other aid for a personnel training program--is well under way, with money and other assistance pledged from the International Civil Aviation Organization, International Air Transport Association and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

Diverse members

A number of member committees are actively tackling the major issues that concern the region's carriers, primarily in the areas of training, maintenance, fleet standardization, scheduling and tariffs, safety and security, and the establishment of a single civil aviation authority for the collective group of island nations. "We are finally a viable entity," says George Faktaufon, ASPA's first secretary-general.

ASPA came into being at the recommendation of an advisory committee of the Civil Aviation Council of the South Pacific, a forum made up of heads of regional governments. …

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