(Geneva) The International Air Transport Association (IATA) welcomed Kuala Lumpur International Airport's (KLIA) response to the plight of a beleaguered airline industry fighting the SARS crisis. "The 50% reduction in landing fees announced by KLIA will significantly contribute to the industry's ability to ride out this crisis at two levels. First, it will directly help those airlines serving KLIA to weather the current storm. Secondly, it is of great symbolic importance to the entire industry. Airports and airlines are partners. Working together in times of crisis will help all of us recover faster," said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA's Director General and CEO.

"There is clearly a trend developing among the Asian Airports. With Singapore, Chinese Taipei and now Malaysia announcing reductions we hope that the other airports in the region will take notice and heed our call for emergency assistance," continued Bisignani.

Wake-Up Hong Kong

""The news of today's announcement by Hong Kong is disappointing. The severe crisis facing the industry requires emergency measures. This is not the time for the half-measures revealed today. The offer of a 50% deferral of fee payments is nowhere near the relief needed for the airlines. It is a placebo for a serious illness. We are not asking for hand-outs. All Hong Kong needs to do is look around to its neighbours for examples of the kind of meaningful support that can be offered," emphasized Bisignani.

The announcement is particularly disappointing after IATA took its message to the attention of the very highest levels of Government in Hong Kong in a personal note to Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa earlier this week. "Air transport is a strategic pillar of the Hong Kong economy. In order to enjoy the wide economic benefits that the air transport industry brings to Hong Kong in good time, it is essential that we get some meaningful support in our hour of need," concluded Bisignani.

IATA is also targeting Seoul's Incheon International Airport and Tokyo Narita to lower their fees in line with airline efforts to reduce costs.