Airlines Push Use Of E-Boarding Pass


Airline companies called on passengers to avail of electronic boarding pass they can capture on their mobile phones, tablets or laptops, which was being implemented to ease congestion in the airports and make air travel easier, airline officials said on Monday.

Cebu Pacific, Air Asia and Philippine Air Lines said the use of the mobile boarding pass was mandated by the International Air Transport Association to eliminate paper documents and move to paperless environment by 2016.

“We are offering this service to ease congestion and make traveling a lot easier and more convenient especially with the start of the summer season when most of us will be traveling,” an Air Asia official said.

According to SITA, the airline Information Technology specialist, 53 percent of airlines have implemented the use of mobile boarding pass via apps. The figure is expected to rise to 91 percent by 2017.

Philippine Airlines and the Manila International Airport piloted the paperless procedure last March 16. But airport officials also accepted paper travel documents.

Candice Iyog, Cebu Pacific (CEB) Vice President, Marketing Distribution, said the airline has started generating mobile boarding passes since December last year.

“CEB’s mobile application allows our passengers to book flights and do mobile check-in. The CEB mobile app generates boarding passes that can be scanned at airports,” Iyog said.

She said passengers could get more details about CEB’s mobile app at htt://bit.ly/CEBmobileapp.

Source: Rosalie C. Periabras, The Manila Times

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IATA Says Aviation Safety Remains High


Safety in global aviation remains high, the International Air Transport Association said Tuesday, as it seeks to improve in-flight tracking after the disappearance of a Malaysian passenger jet in March.

There were 0.34 accidents per million flights in the first four months of 2014 compared with 0.32 over the preceding five years, IATA said at its annual general meeting in Doha, Qatar.

“The preliminary rate for the industry as a whole (including non-IATA airlines) is performing strongly,” with 0.29 accidents per million flights in January-April against 0.48 in the previous five years, it said.

IATA groups 242 airlines representing 84 percent of global air traffic.

Its statement noted that the industry recorded three accidents between January and April, including the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.

“Aviation stakeholders are united in their desire to ensure that we never face another situation where an aircraft simply disappears,” said Kevin Hiatt, senior vice president at IATA’s Safety and Flight Operations department.

MH370 disappeared on March 8 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people aboard. An extensive search in the Indian Ocean has been unable to locate the plane.

An IATA taskforce on in-flight tracking, formed by the UN’s aviation agency, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), is to present its findings in September.

“While states work through ICAO to develop and implement performance-based global standards, the industry is committed to moving forward with recommendations that airlines can implement now,” said Hiatt.

He acknowledged, however, that airlines alone can decide if they want to implement such standards.

Meanwhile the company specialising in air transport communications and information technology SITA announced in Doha plans to introduce a new aircraft tracking device.

“The solution, which is currently being evaluated by several airlines for testing, will utilise technology that is already installed in the aircraft to provide advanced tracking capabilities,” a statement said.

It said the system known as “SITA AIRCOM Server Flight Tracker solution” will alert airline flight dispatchers “to unexpected aircraft movements” it said.

According to its designers, “the solution does not call for extensive additional cost or investment by the airlines” as it relies on a system that is already installed in many aircraft.

Southeast Asian Budget Airlines Slowing Pace of Expansion


Some Discount Carriers Are Deferring or Canceling Aircraft Orders
Some Discount Carriers Are Deferring or Canceling Aircraft Orders

Budget airlines in Southeast Asia are scaling back their breakneck pace of expansion, as passenger demand hasn’t caught up with the capacity boost that has contributed to significant fare pressures.

Some of the region’s biggest discount carriers, such as Malaysia’s AirAsia5099.KU 0.00% Bhd. and Singapore-based Tiger Airways Holdings Ltd. J7X.SG -2.33% , are deferring or canceling aircraft orders while considering reducing investments elsewhere because mounting competition is hurting profitability.

The Southeast Asian region has been the continent’s main hotbed of low-cost carrier growth, with burgeoning markets helping send many middle-class travelers to the skies for the first time.

Budget airlines now carry more than half of Southeast Asia’s airline passengers. These carriers have staged an aggressive cross-border expansion ahead of more-flexible air services arrangements among the region’s 10 nations to be set as early as 2015.

The region’s two dominant discount carriers—AirAsia and Indonesia’s Lion Air—have ordered a combined total of more than 1,000 planes for delivery over the next decade, prompting concerns of overcapacity at a time of slowing economic growth.

Airlines across the Asian-Pacific region have recently recorded some of the weakest traffic growth because of continued weakness in the Chinese economy and the recent contraction in regional trade volumes.

In March, total international passenger traffic in Asia rose just 1.1% from a year earlier, far below the 5.3% rise in new aircraft capacity, according to data released this week by the International Air Transport Association, an industry lobby group.

“It’s a very, very competitive market on the fare side. We’ve seen already a number of carriers take steps to address some of that overordering,” said Robert Martin, chief executive at Singapore-based aircraft leasing firm BOC Aviation Ltd.

“The key thing is the volume of planes coming each year into the region. If they can limit that … it would work,” he said.

AirAsia said earlier it would defer 19 Airbus A320 aircraft that would have arrived this year and the next, noting it would consider replacing the orders with the more fuel efficient A320neo, or new engine option, planes. The airline didn’t respond to requests seeking comment.

Meanwhile, Tigerair recently canceled nine current generation A320 planes that were to arrive in 2014 and 2015, as part of a deal with the aircraft manufacturer to buy 37 A320neos for delivery between 2018 and 2025.

Tigerair, which last week reported a widening group net loss of 95.5 million Singapore dollars ($76.6 million) in the financial year ended March 31, sold its unprofitable Philippines business and said this month it was reviewing its investment in its Indonesian joint venture, Tigerair Mandala.

Tigerair will ground five of Mandala’s nine A320s and three of the five aircraft that are being returned from Tigerair Philippines. Tigerair didn’t respond to calls seeking comment.

AirAsia is also months late in starting commercial flights at its Indian operation, and last year had to pull the plug of its joint venture in Japan due to disagreements with partner All Nippon Airways9202.TO +0.44%

Southeast Asian airlines “are making some adjustments. In some markets there is too much capacity,” notes Brendan Sobie, a regional analyst at CAPA—Centre for Aviation, an industry consultancy.

Aircraft maker Boeing Co. BA +0.17% also said it was on the lookout for possible capacity issues in various global regions.

“One of the areas where we are watching for overcapacity is Southwest and Southeast Asia,” said Randy Tinseth, vice president of marketing at Boeing, which sells its single-aisle 737 jets to Lion Air and other Southeast Asian carriers.

Mr. Tinseth notes that there substantial orders on the books from the region, especially from new business models such as low cost carriers.

While many analysts expect consolidation in the region’s airline industry, they said demand would continue to expand as more people travel.

Lion Air spokesman Leithen Francis said the company would take delivery of up to 38 new jets this year and has no plans to slow down.

“There’s still growth in the Indonesia domestic market, where we are aiming to increase our market share,” Mr. Francis said.

The recent exit of smaller carriers from the Indonesian market is helping Lion Air add capacity as it seeks to increase its market share to 60% from about 50% now, he added.

Meanwhile, Tigerair continues to struggle. On Wednesday, the company said Chief Executive Koay Peng Yen was resigning after less than two years at the helm. He will be succeeded by Lee Lik Hsin, an executive at Singapore Airlines Ltd. C6L.SG +0.29% , which owns a 40% stake in Tigerair.

Source: Gaurav Raghuvanshi, online.wsj.com

 

Government Eyes ‘Ideal’ Travel to Philippines


philippine-flag

THE Philippines will implement the Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) next year, which the Department of Tourism (DOT) hopes will greatly improve the arrival experience of travelers to the country.

Speaking to select reporters on Tuesday, Tourism Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez Jr. said: “The ideal travel experience is one without interruption. We want the entry of travelers into the Philippines to become as smooth and seamless as possible so we need an efficient tool such as an electronic API. This would avoid long queue in our airports, as we can already identify passengers who are ‘bad’ or ‘good.’ But, of course, we have to have a balance between border control/security with that of ease of entry into our airports.”

He said President Aquino is expected to sign an executive order requiring all commercial carriers to provide Philippines authorities—primarily the Bureau of Immigration—vital information and data on all their passengers not later than 15 minutes upon departure and/or 120 hours prior to arrival to the Philippines.

NAIA

Implementation of the APIS would also be carried out jointly with the Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Budget and Management, Bureau of Customs and Bureau of Quarantine.

Aside from being dubbed one of the worst airports in the world, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport has become a place of pandemonium, especially when flights arrive quickly in succession. Local and foreign travelers complain of long queues at the Immigration, holdups at the baggage carousel areas, insufficient baggage trolleys, and harassment at the customs area, especially during Christmas.

A workshop on the API/Passenger Name Record (API/PNR) was held Tuesday at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel to discuss the importance of API in providing seamless-entry formalities to travelers arriving in the country through improved passenger clearance mechanisms, while ensuring the Philippines’s national security.

Aside from the DOT’s Jimenez, Immigration Commissioner Siegfred Mison, Deputy Customs Commissioner Editha Tan and representatives from the United States Agency for International Development (USAid) and International Air Transport Association (IATA) participated the workshop.

In a separate interview, Iata Country Manager for the Philippines Roberto Lim, said it would not be “tedious” for carriers to use APIS in the Philippines as this has already been adopted in some 100 countries, mostly in Europe.

“All we have to do is to synchronize the system with that of the Philippines government. It will be up to the Philippines authorities to align their systems with the airline companies’ systems,” he explained.

The API is an electronic interactive data interchange system between airline companies and governments which include information of passengers such as their full names, gender, date of birth, nationality, country of residence, official travel document number, expiration of travel document, and issuing state or organization of the official travel document. The API may also include the flight details, airport of origin and other destinations of the airline passenger.

The PNR, meanwhile, is a record in the database of a computer-reservation system that contains the itinerary for a passenger, or a group of passengers traveling together.

The US Customs Service, in cooperation with the US Immigration and Naturalization Service and the US airline industry established the APIS as a voluntary program in 1988. The system was eventually codified, computerized, and adopted by the United Nations (UN), and modified by the Iata for use by all air carriers worldwide in 2005.

Jimenez added that APIS would not only speed up the entry of visitors into country but also enable the BI to identify potential threats to national security like terrorists, as well as smugglers, and traffickers of drugs and humans.

While he couldn’t say how much funds are needed to implement APIS, Immigration Associate Commissioner Abdullah Mangotaraassured that the cost would be “minimal.” He added that the APIS has been proposed since 2012, and will be funded through the DOJ.

“The USAid will be supporting us to see through APIS implementation,” explained DOT Assistant Secretary for Tourism Development Planning Rolando Canizal. “They will be providing technical assistance to bring in the necessary platform.” The APIS uses the Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce and Trade initially developed by the US Customs and governments of Australia and New Zealand in the early 1990s, but now administered by the UN.

For her part, Iata Regional Assistant Director Nathalie Herbelles said, once it implements the APIS, the Philippines would serve as a role model among other countries in Southeast Asia.

“Interactive API has its benefits such as giving live information about passengers checking in; potential prevention of inadmissible passengers and related penalties; and use for aviation security since the information is available before the flight takes off,” she said.

In Asia, only China, India, and Japan have implemented APIS.

Source: Ma. Stella F. Arnaldo