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September 26, 2017

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China Airlines in position to adopt flight tracking measures: chairman

DOHA, Qatar--China Airlines (CAL, 中華航空), Taiwan's largest air carrier, is ready to adopt any new flight tracking measures the International Air Transport Association (IATA) might initiate later this year, CAL Chairman Sun Huang-hsiang (孫洪祥) said during IATA's annual meeting in Doha.

"We have a state-of-the art fleet, and our personnel is properly trained," Sun said during a break in the three-day meeting that began on Sunday.

The new global standard to be set by the industry in response to the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 in March is likely to involve numerous parties across the world to deal with issues of national defense, air traffic control and flight safety, Sun said.

Although the new measures could be complicated, Sun said he was optimistic about their implementation and said they will better protect aircraft safety.

Earlier in the meeting, IATA Director General and CEO Tony Tyler said the association will send draft recommendations for improving global tracking capabilities to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) by the end of September.

"The loss of MH370 points us to an immediate need," Tyler said. "A large commercial airliner going missing without a trace for so long is unprecedented in modern aviation. And it must not happen again."

Data collection will guide IATA's endeavors on safety improvements along with flight tracking, Tyler said, adding that the association is moving forward with its Global Aviation Data Management project, which would create the world's largest resource of operational information.

Besides CAL, IATA's move has won strong support from Qatar Airways, host of the general meeting, with its head Akbar Al Baker pledging to be among the first to adopt new flight tracking measures.

However, Tyler said it remains unclear at the moment the potential cost for the improved flight tracking.

Upon the establishment of tracking standard and database, nevertheless, the industry could move forward to predict the risk of accidents and ensure that they will not happen, he said.

CAL also said Tuesday it hopes that its slowly recovering cargo business would help the company turn to profit this year.

Global market demand for air cargo shipment has remained weak over the past three years but should have bottomed out in late 2013, said CAL Chairman Sun Huang-hsiang on the sidelines of the annual International Air Transport Association (IATA) meeting in Doha.

"It is somehow challenging (to be profitable), but we are sparing no efforts to meet this goal," Sun said.

According to IATA research, carriers in the Asia Pacific, a manufacturing region, are more likely to see moderately stronger cargo markets this year, which could help boost collective net profits to US$3.2 billion, up US$1.2 billion from 2013.

The IATA is worried, however, that concerns over China's economic growth could lead to a slowing down of world trade and falling business confidence, which would have negative implications for global aviation markets.

To boost momentum, the airfreight industry has pledged to reduce average shipping times by 48 hours by 2020 though the strategy of simplifying the shipping process, the IATA said. Currently, end-to-end air shipping averages about 6.5 days, it said.

"Air cargo's sales proposition is speed, and cumbersome processes are holding us back," said IATA Director General and CEO Tony Tyler.

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