Garuda could own airports – president

Garuda Indonesia would consider owning and running airports in future, its president Emirsyah Satar has said.

Speaking at the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines’ (AAPA) Assembly of Presidents, which is taking place in Tokyo this week, Satar said such a move could help improve competitiveness and customer service. Currently, Indonesia’s main airports are state-owned and -run.

Emirsyah Satar addresses the AAPA Assembly of Presidents
Emirsyah Satar addresses the AAPA Assembly of Presidents

“We would like to explore owning airports,” Satar told delegates. “The problem is one of monopoly. They (the state-run operators) charge us for everything.”

Congestion at Jakarta airport is also a problem, and Satar said it is starting to impact his airline’s ability to grow. “It is costing us,” Satar said, adding that flight congestion at Jakarta is estimated to add US$34 million to Garuda’s annual fuel bill.

The outgoing CEO also criticised plans by authorities to increase baggage-handling charges.

Infrastructure has been recurring theme at this year’s Assembly of Presidents. But IATA’s director-general & CEO, Tony Tyler, called for caution when engaging in private sector financing.

“Private capital is not a panacea,” he told delegates. “To be successful it must have a strong governance structure embedded in regulation that keeps the consumer in mind when setting parameters on price and quality. It must set reasonable expectations on returns — in line with airports being public utilities.”

He made special reference to Indonesia, along with the Philippines and Vietnam, which have major challenges to meet even existing demand with the current infrastructure.

Cathay resists low-cost trend

Cathay Pacific is unlikely to follow other Asian rivals by launching a low-cost carrier, a senior executive has said. Addressing the AAPA’s Assembly of Presidents in Tokyo, Cathay’s chief operating officer, Rupert Hogg, said the move was unlikely. “We are not convinced that this is the right model for us,” he said.

MAS still suffering in China

Malaysia Airlines has a still not seen a full recovery in China, following the loss of flight MH370. The airline’s CEO, Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, told delegates in Tokyo this week that his airline is “still down” – eight months after the Beijing-bound aircraft’s disappearance. But while admitting to the Assembly of Presidents that dealing with the Chinese market had been “a struggle”, Ahmad Jauhari said that things were now improving. “There has been signs of recovery,” he said.

Airlines boost aircraft tracking

Airlines in the Asia Pacific region are actively seeking ways to improve aircraft tracking as part of their efforts to boost safety. Speaking at the Assembly of Presidents, an official with the AAPA told reporters that airlines are “reinvestigating their tracking processes and the technology they are using”, following the losses of flights MH370 and MH17. But there are still issues with tracking aircraft over oceans. “That is a challenge,” the official said.

Japan-Taiwan traffic surges

Passenger growth between Taiwan and Japan is growing at a rate of 30% per annum, an official with China Airlines has told Travel Daily in Tokyo. Last year some 2.3m visitors flew between the two countries, the official said. And helped by a recent open skies policy, aggressive promotion of new destinations, cultural similarities a weakening yen and more low-cost air routes, the official said traffic could reach three million “maybe next year.”

Michael Mackey reports for Travel Daily Asia from the AAPA Assembly of Presidents in Tokyo

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