Aviation sector faces a critical five years: industry

SINGAPORE, May 15, 2006 (AFP) – The commercial aviation sector faces a critical five years where the two key players, airlines and airport operators, must take the initiative to innovate ahead of a new era in passenger travel, industry experts said Monday Those who refuse to adapt will be left behind and could become takeover targets, or even fold up, they said.

“Put it this way, the next five years is going to see more change than in the last 60 years in the airline business,” Peter Harbison, executive chairman of the Sydney-based consultancy, the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, told the Gate One industry conference.

“Now that means obviously change for everybody who has to do with an airline… consumers, airports, retailers at airports and to that extent yes, it is a war.”

Full-service airlines in particular will have to work even harder at lowering costs because the success of low cost carriers have exposed their operational inefficiencies, Harbison said.

“Liberalisation is going to accelerate,” he said.

“There are going to be a lot of airlines in big trouble because there are airlines, some of them new airlines, who have much lower cost bases and can make money when the others can’t.”

Harbison said another major crisis, lik