AirAsia CEO calls for single aviation authority in ASEAN

Davos, Jan 25: Tony Fernandes, the Indian-origin founder and CEO of the AirAsia group, has called for a single aviation authority to approve licences to operate in 10 Southeast Asian nations, an issue that assumed significance after the deadly crash of the group's Flight QZ8501.

He, however, dismissed any lack of harmony that could have led to the accident on December 28 that killed all 162 people on board. "I don't think the non-harmonisation led to the accident. But I think having one aviation authority improves standards for everybody and makes it easier for businesses to operate. And I think that goes across not just aviation, (but) across everything.


"If ASEAN is to be a common market, investors have to see us as a common market, which means one approving authority - you get one license to operate in ten countries. I point that as a point from aviation," Fernandes told Channel NewsAsia at the sidelines of the World Economic Forum here.

Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) currently has no regional agencies overseeing aviation safety, or coordinating air traffic control - issues that have come to the forefront since the crash of the Airbus A320-200. Fernandes, 50, insisted ASEAN has the ability to set world standards, the report said today. "So if we are going to have an ASEAN aviation authority and an ASEAN banking authority, they should be based on the very best standards. And that makes our companies able to compete globally as well," he said.

Talking about recovery efforts in the Java Sea, where the doomed plane ended, Fernandes said AirAsia's primary concern was the affected families and recovery of bodies. He said it was too early to know what caused the mysterious crash but assured steps would be taken to improve the services.

"Everything has been certified, everything has been run by Airbus in the past. But we are not waiting for the investigation; we are looking to see what we can improve straight away," he added. The Flight QZ8501, en route from Indonesia's Surabaya city to Singapore, ended in the choppy waters half way into a two-hour flight, minutes after it encountered difficulties from an approaching storm.

Multi-national efforts have succeeded in retrieving 70 bodies besides the crucial black box recorders, expected to give details about the final moments of the ill-fated flight. In India, the AirAsia group launched services in June last year in partnership with the Tata group and Arun Bhatia's Telestra TradePlace.


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