With an extra 600 million to 700 million passengers expected to fly globally in the next five years, the growing shortage of pilots and skilled engineers makes cutting costs even more challenging for airlines.
“There are 16,000 aircraft on order through 2020 globally, and we need to train 17,000 new pilots a year to fly them. That is 40,000 more than current capacity. A newly developed IATA toolkit will support more effective decision-making by pilots,” said Giovanni Bisignani, Director-General and Chief Executive of the International Air Transport Association, or IATA.
“The goal is to ensure that training standards are maintained and enhanced. Training programmes are being ramped up to meet the demand,” he said.
The Middle East could be a model area for security, Bisignani said. “Security is still a costly and an un-coordinated mess. IATA is looking to launch an initiative to harmonise airport security across the region, beginning with the Gulf states and technology will play a big role here.”
Asked why IATA chose the Middle East to be a model area in the world for security, Bisignani told Emirates Business: “We chose it because it is a region with a limited number of countries with brand new airports – some of them recently opened and others in the process. And so we have the opportunity to implement technology in an easy way.”
He added that the Middle East area has an incredible opportunity with new airports and new technology. “Let us try to implement a certain kind of harmonised set of rules in order to make the passenger experience more pleasant. If we can combine the biometrics, the identification of the passengers and all those kind of things into one, not just with airlines but also with immigration, it will be a great opportunity. I am hoping that a passenger is able to go through immigration with one fingerprint and also board the plane with just one fingerprint, without using a boarding card,” he pointed out.
According to IATA, the annual security bill now rests at $5.9 billion (Dh21.6bn), which is $300 million (Dh1.1bn) over IATA’s previous estimates. “But we are more secure than we were in 2001,” said Bisignani.
He said IATA will revolutionise the travel experience with expanded self-service options to give passengers more control over their journeys. “The new strategy is built around the success of the common-use self-service kiosk, already operating at 83 airports around the world. Better baggage management will help mitigate the $3bn (Dh11) in annual costs from the 1.8 per cent of bags that are mishandled. And the IATA Safety Audit for Ground Operations will help reduce the $4bn (Dh14.6bn) annual cost of ground damage,” said Bisignani.
“The common theme globally is the need for efficiency. IATA’s Simplifying the Business programme is delivering critical efficiencies from e-ticketing to e-freight. In 2008 IATA will launch three major initiatives that will cut costs and improve service,” he added.