150 VIPs expected at aviation summit

The "who's who" of the global aviation community, including transport ministers, key government officials and airline and airport chiefs, will gather in Singapore next month.

A record 150 VIPs are expected at the biennial aviation leadership summit being held on the sidelines of the Singapore Airshow 2016. The list includes Mr Olumuyiwa Bernard Aliu, president of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) - a United Nations arm that regulates global commercial aviation - and recently-appointed European transport commissioner Violeta Bulc.

On the agenda are key issues affecting the industry, said Mr Kevin Shum, director-general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, which is organising the event jointly with the Transport Ministry, International Air Transport Association and air show organiser Experia Events.

One topic is the role and relevance of global air hubs like Changi Airport. With technology allowing airlines to fly farther and profitably with fewer passengers, many can bypass hubs to offer point-to-point services. How would this affect hub airports that serve as a stopover point for long-haul flights?

Also on the agenda: the growing role of drones, said Mr Shum at a media briefing yesterday. While unmanned aircraft systems can complement manned flights and revolutionise aviation, they can also encroach on limited airspace already significantly used by manned aircraft and may pose safety, security and privacy concerns, he said.

Delegates will discuss developments in the field and how the industry can respond. The summit will also discuss what it would take to reach a global agreement on aviation emissions. To avoid unilateral action by countries and industry groups, ICAO is working towards a global system to further reduce the industry's carbon footprint.

Mr Shum said: "By bringing together industry heads, we are providing an important platform for air global issues affecting the aviation industry and how we can move forward."

The aviation summit is on Feb 15, a day before Singapore Airshow 2016 opens. Experia Events managing director Leck Chet Lam said the response to the air show from Feb 16 to 21 has been good.

More than 1,000 aviation firms from over 50 countries are participating. Of the exhibitors, 75 per cent are regulars like Boeing and Airbus, and local firms including Singapore Technologies Engineering.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 28, 2016, with the headline '150 VIPs expected at aviation summit'. Print Edition | Subscribe