Bangkok: Aviation industry figures and politicians on 28 June hailed a boom in air traffic in India and China, with operators keen to cash in on growing numbers of passengers travelling to the regional giants.
Thai Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont told an aviation forum here that the expansion of air traffic in China and India was contributing to the growth of the overall Asian economy.
“The expanding economic power of China and India is a key factor in Asia’s dynamism .... (and) this has already impacted on the aviation industry,” Surayud told the seminar, organised by airline network Star Alliance.
“It’s clear that China and India’s trade and traffic with the rest of Asia will help shape the future of aviation in the region,” he added.
Air China and Shanghai Airlines will later this year become the newest members of Star Alliance, the largest global passenger airline network.
Jaan Albrecht, Star Alliance CEO, said they hoped the new members would bring a 2-3% increase on their existing 400 million yearly passengers.
Albrecht told the forum that they were also in negotiations with two other possible new members -- one from India and one from Russia.
“Like China, India is definitely a developing and growing market in Asia,” he said.
Thailand’s flag carrier Thai Airways International is also looking to cash in on rising air traffic, with its president Apinan Sumanaseni saying they would forge partnerships with Air China and Shanghai Airlines.
“Opportunity in the Chinese market is huge,” Apinan told reporters.
The UN World Tourism Organisation said tourism in China would likely remain strong following a 6% growth in international arrivals last year.
“After having overtaken Italy as the fourth-ranked world destination in terms of arrivals in 2004, China should move up to third place this year or in 2008 as the latest,” said UNWTO secretary general Francesco Frangialli.
Surayud told the forum that China’s air traffic was growing at 7.6% annually, while India had seen record growth in the past three years.