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08 Mar 2011
Tyler Highlights Importance of China for Aviation's Future

Cathay Pacific Airways Chief Executive Tony Tyler today expressed caution for airlines amid the current increase in fuel prices but maintained a positive outlook for the aviation industry generally, and in particular the enormous opportunities presented by the growing market in Mainland China.

Mr Tyler was speaking at the start of the Asian Aerospace Expo and Congress 2011, which opened today (8 March) at the AsiaWorld-Expo at Hong Kong International Airport, with more than 270 exhibitors from 32 countries taking part.

Cathay Pacific is Official Airline at the biennial event, being staged for the third time in Hong Kong, and also has a booth in the exhibition hall, shared with sister airline Dragonair, that features the carrier's acclaimed new Business Class product.

Addressing the audience of industry representatives, Mr Tyler said: "We all remember the threat faced by the industry in 2008 when crude hit almost US$150 a barrel; now the price is back up above US$100," he said. "It's possible that we're already on the brink of the next industry crisis before the memory of the last has even begun to recede!"

However, Mr Tyler said he has always been positive about the development of the industry in Asia, "and I'm still a bull on the future of aviation in Asia".

He pointed out the "exciting and enormous" potential of China's growing market, where the number of passengers is expected to soar from 267 million last year to 500 million by 2015 and up to 1.5 billion by 2030.

"Just imagine the impact of having hundreds of millions of China's population become wealthy enough to travel outside the country's borders! This is a very exciting prospect for airlines such as Cathay Pacific and Dragonair, positioned as we are in Hong Kong, one of the key gateways to the Mainland. China's growth will be good for our industry as a whole, providing unparalleled opportunities for the future," he said.

Mr Tyler said that Cathay Pacific realised that airfreight will be one of the big drivers of Hong Kong's future success - "and that the airfreight market will be driven by what's happening in Mainland China."

He added that the airline's joint venture cargo airline with Air China is about to come to life. "We will use Air China Cargo as the platform for the joint venture, with Cathay Pacific contributing some aircraft and with members of our senior management on board. We believe the JV will tap into the existing strength - and enormous potential - of the Yangtze River Delta region."

Finally, Mr Tyler talked about his feelings about leaving Cathay Pacific at the end of March and taking over the top job at IATA in July. "I'm excited about that, of course - I'm leaving one hot seat to climb into another - but I'll be very sad about leaving Hong Kong and all the great people I've worked with in this region over the past three decades."