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Asian aviation to continue to grow in influence but challenges remain, says Cathay Pacific chief executive

03 Sep 2007

Cathay Pacific Airways Chief Executive Tony Tyler today told an audience of industry representatives at the Asian Aerospace International Expo and Congress that the Asia aviation sector will continue to grow in influence in the coming years, spurred by fast-rising demand in burgeoning markets such as Mainland China and India.

Asia's carriers are "the best carriers in the world", Mr Tyler said, "but we are also on the way to becoming the biggest airlines in the world. The reason this is happening, apart from growth in the region generally, is the enormous growth in India and China. This is happening fast and it will continue to drive the increasingly important influence of Asian aviation."

Mr Tyler outlined Cathay Pacific's strategy - including the integration of Dragonair with its extensive Mainland China network and the equity relationship the airline now enjoys with Air China - for developing twin hubs in Hong Kong and Beijing. "Hubbing is what it's all about and Cathay Pacific is now truly a network carrier with over 50% of our passengers making connections through Hong Kong," Mr Tyler said.

Challenges will always remain in "this fickle industry" and Mr Tyler pointed to three key challenges Asian carriers will face: the growing environmental debate, airspace congestion and ever-increasing competition.

Regarding the environmental concerns, Mr Tyler said the aviation industry is a target in certain parts of the world due to its contribution to emissions and global warming. However, Mr Tyler said it was important that the industry responds in the appropriate way, highlighting the good work done by organisations such as IATA, and said it was equally important for individual airlines to also take a lead. “It is my belief that here in Asia we have the opportunity to help conduct a more rational and reasoned debate," he said.

On airspace congestion, particularly in Mainland China and over the Pearl River Delta region, Mr Tyler said it was good to see that the Hong Kong and Mainland governments understand the problem and the complexity of solving it. "They know it has to be solved and we in the industry need to support them," he said.

Mr Tyler noted that a number of factors have helped drive the recent success of aviation in Hong Kong including the huge - and continuing - investment Cathay Pacific has made in its fleet and the developing of new services to and from Hong Kong. Hubs inevitably attract more airlines, "and Cathay Pacific has never stood in the way of competition," said Mr Tyler. "When you are the big guy on the block you'll get accused of being a monopoly or being 'anti-competition', but nothing could be further from the truth. Our response to meet competition is to do what we know best and what we do best - serve the market well."

Cathay Pacific Airways has been named the Official Carrier of Asian Aerospace International Expo and Congress 2007, which kicks start today at AsiaWorld-Expo alongside Hong Kong International Airport. The four-day, trade-only event has attracted more than 500 exhibiting companies from over 20 countries, 12 national pavilions, 1,000 conference delegates, 100 speakers; with up to 10,000 trade visitors expected, and more than 200 media accredited.  As Hong Kong's home carrier, Cathay Pacific is keen to support an event that will bring more visitors to the city and help to underpin Hong Kong's status as a leading international aviation hub.