Beijing - The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has strengthened its commitment to China’s aviation development with the opening of its new North Asia Regional Office in Beijing.

“Asia Pacific overtook North America as the largest single market in the world in 2009. China is the leading market in Asia with 38% of passengers in the region either starting or ending their journey in China. By 2013, this will increase to 45%. China is a big market, and getting bigger. IATA is here to support the growth, and to ensure that the industry gets stronger,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

China’s aviation industry has grown rapidly over the last 10 years. The aircraft fleet increased from 480 to 1,400 within a decade, while the domestic market grew 3.5 times over the same period from 1.6 million seats a week to 5.7 million seats per week. International seats also grew from half a million weekly seats to 1.4 million within the decade. Today, IATA has 10 airlines from mainland China in its membership, while Mr Liu Shaoyong, Chairman of the Board of China Eastern Airlines, is a member of IATA’s Board of Governors.

“This year, while we expect the airline industry to lose US$2.8 billion, we are predicting a profit of US$900 million for Asia Pacific this year, the biggest of any region. The dynamism of the China market is helping to drive profits in the region,” said Bisignani.

Bisignani highlighted four areas for further cooperation for Chinese aviation:

Safety: “China’s safety record is impressive, with no hull losses involving jet aircraft in the last five years. IATA’s Chinese members have achieved the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) standards. I hope the CAAC will consider using IOSA and the IATA Safety Audit for Ground Operations (ISAGO) to maintain its impressive safety record,” said Bisignani.

Simplifying the Business: IATA’s Simplifying the Business program will deliver US$16.9 billion in annual cost savings for the industry. “China was a star of the e-ticketing program, achieving 100% e-ticketing on-time and ahead of schedule, delivering US$3 billion of savings annually. The next target is 100% bar coded boarding passes (BCBP) by the end of the year. Global BCBP capability is at 84%, but China is around 43%. IATA is working with the airlines and the CAAC to ensure that China meets the global target,” said Bisignani.

Bisignani also highlighted the need for more airports to participate in IATA e-freight. “Tianjin is the only airport in mainland China that is in the e-freight program. It is critical that more airports in China participate in e-freight, both for domestic and international operations, to ensure that China keeps a competitive edge,” said Bisignani. He also congratulated Air China for their leadership in the Fast Travel projects and urged other Chinese airlines to participate as well.

Infrastructure: The aviation industry (airlines, airports, air navigation service providers and manufacturers) has committed to stabilizing emissions with carbon neutral growth from 2020 and cutting emissions in half by 2050 compared to 2005. “Our cooperation with the CAAC, ATMB and the Air Force has helped to deliver 21 new routes, saving 396 thousand tonnes of CO2 and 126 thousand tonnes of fuel. These achievements are critical to our industry’s ambitious environment goals. We look forward to continuing this cooperation to improve the aviation infrastructure in China by implementing performance based navigation, shortening routes, more flexibility for polar routes and improving efficiency in the Pearl River Delta,” said Bisignani.

Liberalization: “The consolidation in the Chinese market has created stronger carriers – Air China with Shenzhen Airlines, and China Eastern with Shanghai Airlines. Airlines need the freedom to operate as real businesses. I encourage China to join the IATA Agenda for Freedom to create more opportunities for China’s carriers at home and abroad,” said Bisignani. Ten governments and the European Commission have signed the multilateral statement of policy principles on liberalizing ownership, pricing and market access.

“IATA’s new office in Beijing is a strong symbol of our commitment to the China market and to making it stronger. We look forward to many more years of great cooperation with our member airlines in China, the CAAC, the ATMB and the military, to ensure the healthy development of air transport and the enormous benefits that it brings,” said Bisignani.

IATA’s office in China started operation in 1984 with only three people. Today, there are over 80 employees in the North Asia Regional Office, which is responsible for all of China, Mongolia and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The Regional Office leads all of IATA’s programs in the region. IATA’s Billing and Settlement Plan in China is also IATA’s largest operation in terms of the number of tickets handled, settling over 120 million transactions with a value of US$16.4 billion, or 27% of the global total.

IATA Training and Development Institute (ITDI) programs are also conducted at the IATA Regional Office. In 2009, over 1,600 Chinese aviation professionals attended courses at the IATA training centre.

Editor's Notes:

  • IATA (International Air Transport Association) represents some 230 airlines comprising 93% of scheduled international air traffic.

For more information, please contact:

Albert Tjoeng
Assistant Director
Corporate Communications
Asia Pacific
Tel: +65 64992286