12/04/2011

Aviation growth in Asia

Never in human history have we seen a time when two billion people will enter the middle class and demand air travel. That time is now.


That was a quote from William Voss, the president of the Flight Safety Foundation, as reported in The Times. He was actually quoted in a reference to a flight of China Eastern Airlines, which took off from Osaka, to fly to Shanghai, without a clearance from the Air Traffic Control. It was seen as symptomatic of the fact that there is such growth in civil aviation Asia that pilot training, including proficiency in English, is lagging behind demand. There was even a comment that cabin crew of India's IndiGo  airline, including air hostesses, are switching jobs and training to become pilots.

Although the reason for the story was not specifically growth in air traffic, this remark must make us wonder how long the aviation industry will be able to continue to insist that it is a minor player in the global warming effect of aviation. Of course, there will equally be a huge growth in the ownership of cars, plus other items requiring energy, such as household appliances and electronic goods.

What I see as worrying is the fact that we in Western Europe, in particular in the relatively rich country of Switzerland, can be accused of setting an example which, if followed by these two billion people, will cause untold problems. It will already have an enormous effect if the resulting flights are necessary journeys. If, on top of that, there is the same demand for leisure travel, which can be offered at low cost partly because aviation is still largely exempt from VAT and from any fuel tax, then we, here, cannot avoid shouldering some of the blame.

Perhaps you should remember this when you next feel like flying somewhere "because it is cheap"!

 

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