IATA chief urges Japan to treat air carriers fairly


Arguing against proposed restrictions on rehabilitated Japan Airlines, Tony Tyler, director general of the International Air Transport Association, said Wednesday that the government should ensure that the policies drawn up for all airlines in the country are fair and transparent, said Wednesday.

Speaking at a press conference at a Tokyo hotel the same day Japan Airlines Co. relisted its shares on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange, Tyler called for forward-looking, even-handed treatment.

“No airlines should be given special favors but neither should any airlines be penalized,” the IATA chief said, indicating his opposition to calls for restricting JAL’s future operations. Tyler said he didn’t see any point in penalizing the carrier after helping rehabilitate it.

All Nippon Airways Co., JAL’s main competitor, and the Liberal Democratic Party have argued that JAL should not be allowed to take advantage of the expected expansion of landing and departure slots at Tokyo International Airport at Haneda.

The IATA chief said that the once-ailing airline will face “the difficulty of operating in a very competitive market,” with high and volatile fuel prices.

Tyler also said that the high cost of infrastructure at Japan’s major airports will be a big challenge for the company.

Japan should reduce the high infrastructure costs at its main airports to make its aviation industry more competitive, he said, calling for reductions in landing charges at Narita International Airport near Tokyo as well as Kansai International Airport near Osaka.

The IATA chief pointed out that the aviation sector and tourism industry in Japan account for some 1 percent of the country’s economy.

“But if you look at other countries, they have a much higher percentage,” he said. “Aviation, if given the right conditions, could contribute a lot more to the Japanese economy.”

Peach eyes overseas flights


Fledgling budget carrier Peach Aviation Ltd. aims to expand international services before adding new routes in Japan, Chief Executive Officer Shinichi Inoue said Wednesday at the Kansai Press Club in Osaka.

Peach also plans to forge ahead with plans to set up new routes to mainland China despite all the political turbulence, he said.

“We are not thinking about changing the plan, despite the Senkaku Islands issue,” Inoue said in reference to the territorial spat between Japan and China that has dampened bilateral business sentiment.

The airline “would like to build a network covering Asia first,” Inoue said.

The affiliate of All Nippon Airways Co. began operating in March by offering domestic flights out of its home base at Kansai International Airport in Osaka to Sapporo and Fukuoka. It has since added Kagoshima and Nagasaki to its network.

Internationally, Peach is flying between Osaka and Hong Kong, and between Osaka and Seoul. Reservations on these routes have not dropped, despite the government’s island ownership disputes with China and South Korea.