Aviation in the Asia-Pacific region grew by 73.1 percent between 2001 and 2010, and overtook the US as the largest market in 2009. Last year, 99 million seats were scheduled in July alone – a six percent year-on-year rise and an 11% increase in flight numbers.
This rapid growth continues. It’s anticipated that by 2014, as much as 45% of air travel will fly to, from or within the Asia-Pacific region. Meanwhile other sources have suggested that over the next 20 years, almost half of the growth in air traffic will be driven by this market.
Part of this growth is attributable to the region’s rapidly growing middle class, who are choosing to travel domestically and internationally by air. However, India’s market is also growing and signs point to the rapid emergence of other markets like Myanmar and Indonesia.
This is great news for airlines of course. The increasing demand for seats is expected to pave the way for airlines operating elsewhere to enter the market, while those that already fly in, out and within the Asia-Pacific region can capitalise through expansion.
Many airlines have already begun to make considerable aircraft investments to cope with the increased demand; a trend that is expected to continue. According to Boeing, over the next 20 years, airlines will need 12,030 new airplanes valued at $1.7 trillion.
It’s not just ticket sales that will soar for Asia-Pacific airlines, however; ancillary revenue – such as food, beverages and duty free goods – will also be a major area of growth.
Another significant area for investment by airlines in this region is in-flight entertainment as more and more passengers will want to be entertained during their journey. Premium airlines operating long and medium-haul flights will likely continue to invest in the latest embedded IFE systems which will operate on the Android platform, whilst low cost and regional carriers will look to wireless and portable IFE solutions. The investment in WiFi enabled aircraft is set to continue at pace too.
Air Asia’s long-haul affiliate airline, AirAsia X, as well as Qantas are just two of the region’s airlines that have announced plans to offer passengers the Samsung Galaxy Tablet packed full of movies, TV shows and other entertainment. Meanwhile, budget airline Scoot has recently chosen to provide passengers with iPads that are pre-loaded with IFE content. This has reduced the weight of the aircraft by seven percent, while increasing seating by 40 percent.
Air travel is changing, for passengers and airlines alike, and no market in the world is contributing more to its evolution than Asia-Pacific. If airlines in the region get their proposition right, they can expect major success over the coming years.