The Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) director general Andrew Herdman said one key area AAPA members must discuss at this week’s 62nd Assembly of Presidents in Jeju, Korea is the handling of mass service disruptions, along with passenger rights legislations, as the region faces increased natural events such as Typhoon Jebi and the Hokkaido earthquake in Japan.

Speaking ahead of the assembly, which begins Oct. 19, Herdman said current passenger rights legislations are written for isolated service failures, which does not apply to mass disruptions, and there is a need to look at handling these events at a system-level approach with airlines, authorities and airports.

“The industry is good at reacting to disasters in one form or another. The system is complex and is also very resilient, but it can always do better,” he said. “Contingency planning and establishing relationships with other stakeholders prior to the onset of these events has paid off in the past, and we will have a lot to discuss about that.”    

The 15-member organization will be covering other mainstay topics, such as safety and security, but will also touch on relatively newer areas like infrastructure, environmental sustainability and cybersecurity.

AAPA has been advocating the need for greater infrastructural improvements across the region to tackle slots constraints, and the usage of new technology to maximize current systems. It estimates $1.5 trillion worth of infrastructural development will be needed over the next 20 years, mostly in airports.

Herdman is overall bullish about the growth of commercial aviation in the region, although he noted some issues—such as oil prices and trade disputes—could eventually affect airlines profitability as well as consumers’ confidence.

He added that trade disputes and related tariffs are detrimental to transportation sector, including air cargo, although the effects have yet to be felt as most affected goods are currently not carried by air, such as metals. He noticed small burst of growth in the air cargo sector as businesses rush to ship goods out from the affected countries prior to the onset of tariffs.

Chen Chuanren, chuanren@purplelightvisuals.com