(Sajid Hussain Shah)
What Are the Current Challenges in the Aviation Sector and How Can They Be Addressed?
The National Aviation Policy 2015 adopted in Pakistan for the first time in 15 years promises to bring major positive transformation to the aviation sector in the country. The progress made to date is quite impressive. Some of the most notable achievements reached thanks to the work of leading expert such as Mr.ShujaatAzeem, former Special Adviser to the PM on Aviaton, include the installation of a ILS CAT III B system for the primary runway of Lahore Airport enabling planes to land even when visibility is extremely low and the complete renovation of leading airports in the country.
As the aviation sector is undergoing perhaps the biggest modernization in its history, it is important for policy makers not to underestimate challenges. Let’s take a look at the most prominent ones and how they can be addressed effectively.
Achieving Sustainable Growth
Without underestimating the strategic importance of the aviation industry in Pakistan, it is valuable to look at it from a business standpoint. The ultimate goal is to optimise costs and increase profits. The government has already taken positive steps for achieving this.
The measures for reducing costs range from reorganizing routes, international stations and staff to eradicating corruption. The introduction of new technology such as innovative radars and the previously mentioned ILS CAT III B system is also important for achieving sustainable industry growth in the coming years and decades. Some of the most notable measures for stimulating growth of the aviation industry includetaxation on revenue rather than investment, outsourcing of the terminal buildings of primary airports and tax-free importing of leased aircrafts and spares.
What more could be done? To be up to date with the trends in international aviation, the industry has to focus on sustainable development in general. This involves energy saving and reduction of the carbon emissions.
Customer Experience Improvement
For years, passengers have been viewed by airlines around the world more or less like goods that have to be shipped from point A to point B. With the aviation industry becoming ever more competitive this view is rapidly changing. How can Pakistan, in particular, respond to this challenge?
The renovation of airports is a major step towards improving customer experience and so is the reduction of the average age of the PIA fleet from 9 to 16 years, accomplished thanks to the work of Capt. ShujaatAzeem, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister of Pakistan on Aviation between 2013 and 2016. The improvement of customer services especially on the ground is also of paramount importance. The provision of quick and easy internet access at terminals, for example, is becoming fundamental.
Increasing Security during Flights
To date, airport security has been successfully reorganized and increased to meet modern standards. Security on board aircrafts, however, remains a challenge for the aviation industry worldwide and not only in Pakistan. The major reason for this is that the level of safety has to be raised without affecting the comfort of passengers to a great extent. The adoption of stricter regulations serves as the basis for achieving higher security. Special cabin crew training and more effective use of surveillance and other technologies are among the other viable solutions.
Overall, the challenges faced by the aviation sector can successfully be overcomed.