Airport investment at record high

London, January 25:

Airports around the world invested a record total of $36 billion last year to pay for new runways, terminals and modern facilities to cope with steady growth in international air travel. Big projects included a new terminal for low-cost airlines at Singapore’s Changi airport, improved terminals at Washington’s Dulles and a five-year expansion plan approved at Paris Charles de Gaulle.

However, the Geneva-based Airports Council International (ACI), which compiled the figures, has insisted that the pace of investment needs to be improved to cope with its forecast that worldwide traffic will double by 2020. The ACI warned of severe capacity shortages unless projects proceeded quickly — including proposals for new runways at Stansted, Heathrow and several other British airports.

Robert Aaronson, the ACI’s director-general, aid, “Earmarking funds for airport expansion projects is a pressing need. It is the only way to avoid a severe capacity crunch at congested gateways. If we are to serve the travelling public and local economies, it is important for all aviation stakeholders to work together to remove obstacles to airport development.”

A spokesman for the British Airports Authority welcomed the ACI’s call, Environmentalists were unpersuaded. Steve Hounsham, a spokesman for Transport 2000, said, “Instead of spending $36 billion on setting down new runways, governments should be getting that kind of money out of the aviation industry to tackle climate change.”

Asian traffic tops 128m

SINGAPORE: Air traffic for Asia Pacific carriers in December rose by nearly one per cent year-on-year to 10.96 million passengers, bringing overall traffic in 2005 to 128 million. For air cargo, measured in terms freight-tonne-km, traffic rose an annual 6.4 per cent in December to 4.6 million tonnes, the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) said.

“The outlook for Asia Pacific’s aviation industry in 2006 remains fairly positive although the burden of high oil prices on the global economy remains a concern,” AAPA’s director-general Andrew Herdman said. AAPA is a trade association of 17 international airlines based in the region. They are: Air New Zealand, All Nippon Airways, Asi-ana Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airways, China Airlines, Dragonair, EVA Air, Garuda Indo-nesia, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, Malaysia Airlines, Philippine Ai-rlines, Qantas Airways, Royal Brunei Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Thai Air and Vietnam Airlines. — AFP