1. After AirAsia tragedy, Tony Fernandes says need regional aviation regulators

After AirAsia tragedy, Tony Fernandes says need regional aviation regulators

Regulators needed to streamline a fragmented safety framework in the booming industry, AirAsia's CEO Tony Fernandes said.

By: | Singapore | Updated: January 23, 2015 3:58 PM
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A woman walks in front of the AirAsia ticketing office at Soekarno Hatta airport in Jakarta, January 21, 2015. Indonesia will not release to the public a 30-day preliminary report detailing its investigation into last month’s crash of an AirAsia passenger jet that killed all 162 people on board, said Tatang Kurniadi, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Committee, on Wednesday. REUTERS

Southeast Asia needs regional aviation regulators to streamline a fragmented safety framework and ensure common standards for aircrew training in the booming industry, AirAsia’s group chief executive officer (CEO) Tony Fernandes said.

The patchy airline safety record of Indonesia, the largest country in the region, has been in the spotlight after an Indonesia AirAsia Airbus A320 crashed into the Java Sea on Dec. 28, killing all 162 people on board.

The Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) has no regional agencies overseeing aviation safety or co-ordinating air traffic control, unlike the more developed European market.

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“It’s time for ASEAN institutions to step forward, for commonality and for standardisation, and for quality,” AirAsia chief Tony Fernandes told Reuters in a television interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday.

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Though the cause of the AirAsia crash is still unknown, aviation experts have seized on the incident to point to the region’s congested skies and patchwork of differing safety standards.

“We should have one ASEAN regulator for air traffic, one ASEAN safety standard, one pilot training qualification, so there will be mobility of workforce,” Fernandes said.

“So ASEAN is not just about Open Skies, it’s about having some ASEAN standardisation and institutions to further advance the ASEAN aviation industry.”

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A woman stand in front of an AirAsia check-in machine at Soekarno Hatta airport in Jakarta, January 21, 2015. Indonesian investigators may release some initial findings next week into last month’s crash of any AirAsia passenger jet that killed 162 people, but the full preliminary report will not be made public, a government official said on Wednesday. REUTERS

ASEAN is pushing ahead with plans to establish a single aviation market, or “Open Skies”, by 2015, which will allow its members’ airlines unfettered access to each other’s markets.

However the group, whose 10 member states range from developed Singapore to impoverished Myanmar, has made scant progress on adopting uniform technical and safety operating procedures.

Apart from Indonesia, AirAsia operates a series of minority-owned affiliates in Thailand, the Philippines and India. This allows it to get around foreign ownership rules.

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Timeline showing the final minutes and altitude of AirAsia flight QZ8501 before it crashed on December 28.

The growth of the middle class in Southeast Asia has pushed the likes of Malaysian-listed AirAsia group and Indonesia’s privately owned Lion Air to place record orders with planemakers Boeing and Airbus as they bet that low fares will prompt more of the region’s 600 million-strong population to take to the skies.

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Military personnel load a bodybag containing what they believe to be a victim of AirAsia QZ 8501 onto a helicopter on the deck of Indonesian Navy ship KRI Banda Aceh sailing in the Java Sea, Indonesia, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. Indonesian divers retrieved Thursday six more bodies from waters around the sunken fuselage of the AirAsia jetliner that crashed last month. (AP)

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AirAsia Group Chief Executive Officer Tony Fernandes speaks during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Fernandes is more than just the CEO of AirAsia: He’s the brash personality and cheerleader-like figure who gives the discount carrier its soul. A flamboyant executive who loves race cars and soccer – and is known for speaking his mind, sometimes inappropriately – Fernandes has opened air travel to millions who previously couldn’t afford it. Now, with one of his planes and 162 people onboard missing, Fernandes faces what he’s calling his worst nightmare. (AP)

 

 

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