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Cathay Pacific COO Philip Chen says fuel the “Crisis of the Year” facing airline industry

02 Nov 2004

Cathay Pacific Airways Director and Chief Operating Officer Philip Chen addressed unprecedented challenges facing the world’s aviation industry at an annual meeting of heads of government aviation authorities.

Speaking last night in Hong Kong at the Cathay Pacific-sponsored opening dinner of the 41st Conference of Directors General of Civil Aviation Asia and Pacific Regions, Mr Chen said that the rising price of fuel is “the Crisis of the Year” facing the industry.

“Aviation is a central pillar of the global economy and thus the industry is very much exposed to external crises and shocks. After 9/11, SARS and war in the Middle East, the price of fuel is the Crisis of the Year,” Mr Chen said.

“Airlines are doing what they can to reduce consumption. But we could do better with closer co-operation and better communication with Air Traffic Service Providers and Airport Operators. Straightening routes, enhancing air traffic control procedures to allow aircraft to operate closer to optimum levels and improving airport operations procedures are just three measures that could generate tremendous savings.”

Mr Chen highlighted the concern felt by all airlines that commercial insurers may introduce new War Risk exclusion clauses.

“Whilst airlines are very keen to do whatever we can, it is obvious that airlines should not be bearing all the burdens and costs. The airlines are victims too, and such security and safety challenges must be faced squarely by all the countries together,” Mr Chen said. “With that of course is the insurance question and we cannot expect the airline industry to face that alone.”

The conference, hosted by the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department from November 1 to 5, has 170 delegates from 38 states/territories including the People’s Republic of China, United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Australia, Japan, Singapore, Thailand and the Macau Special Administrative Region have come to Hong Kong to participate.

The conference was last hosted in Hong Kong in 1962. Cathay Pacific Airways has given its backing to the event and sponsored the opening formal dinner.

Mr Philip Chen, right, and Mr Norman Lo, Director General of Civil Aviation ready to present a pair of Cathay Pacific Business Class tickets at the dinner's lucky draw
Cathay Pacific Director and Chief Operating Officer Philip Chen, speaking at the 41st Conference of Directors General of Civil Aviation Asia and Pacific Regions, said the rising price of fuel is "the Crisis of the Year" facing the industry.