IATA expects ‘major slowdown’ in Japanese aviation

Officials as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have warned a “major slowdown” in aviation traffic to Japan could cause a disruption to the global economy.

Japan’s domestic airline market - which presently generates $19 billion in revenue annually, carrying 83 million passengers per year – “is the most exposed” warned IATA, following a devastating earthquake on March 11th.

Air transport in the Chinese market is the also exposed, as 23 per cent of its international revenue is generated from Japan travel, according to IATA.

Taiwan and South Korea generate 20 per cent of their international revenue from Japan-related operations, followed by Thailand (15 per cent), the US (12 per cent), Hong Kong (11 per cent) and Singapore (9 per cent).

“A major slowdown in Japan is expected in the short-term,” explained IATA director general Giovanni Bisignani.

“And the fortunes of the industry will likely not improve until the effect of a reconstruction rebound is felt in the second half of the year.”

Japan also produces three-to-four per cent of the global supply of aviation fuel, with IATA subsequently raising concerns damage to “key fuel infrastructure in Japan” may caused shortages.

However, most Japanese airports have fuel supplies for the next ten days, the organisation said.

Safety Concerns

Despite the logistical concerns of aviation in the country, IATA has been quick to reassure travellers there are no safety risks.

The body welcomed a statement from the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) on behalf of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), International Maritime Organization (IMO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), on the continued safety of air transport operations in Japan.

These five organisations confirmed there are no restrictions to normal air transport operations at Japan’s major airports, including both Haneda and Narita.

“Effective air links are critically important at this time. Our members are rising to the challenge of bringing relief supplies, equipment and people to Japan as well as connecting families affected by this tragedy,” concluded Mr Bisignani.