AirAsia urges creation of Asean Aviation office

AIRASIA Berhad CEO Anthony Francis Fernandes is urging the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to create a single Asean Aviation Authority to facilitate the integration and efficient management of all their respective air carriers.

Fernandes is encouraging Asean to create a common market just like Europe “as it is difficult for the airline business to deal with 10 presidents and prime ministers.”

He added there must be effort to integrate Asean so that there will be one aviation standard.

“Put down nationalism and vested interests, if we do not get together against big giants China and India, it will give us much better chance to compete against the world,” Fernandes said during a news conference at Villamor Air Base to unveil an “I Love Asean” aircraft livery.

The Airbus plane was colorfully decorated with designs inspired by textiles, architecture, art and nature from all 10 Asean nations.

Splashed on the side of the aircraft are batic cetak from Malaysia, poon chao bin from Thailand, ulos Batak from Indonesia, tapis from the Philippines, trong dong from Vietnam, kbach pka Chan from Cambodia, Lao phouthai from Lao PDR, Chate from Myanmar, jonfsarat from Brunei Darussalam and Vanda Miss Joaqim from Singapore.

Fernandes said China’s Alibaba, without constraints from their government, would compete with Asean if the 10 members are not able to create a similar big conglomerate.

He said the Asean has a population of 600 million to 700 million inhabitants, and the region could be made smaller “with airlines that fly to all Asean countries.”

“It is relevant to increase connectivity within the region and to increase cultural ties among Asean people,” he added, saying it would enable its inhabitants to contribute to interregional tourism.

He said in 2016, there were 116 million visitors to the Asean, of which, 50 million were intra-Asean and 43 percent were from outside Asean.

“I am optimistic there will be 121 million visitors [this year], and we must be able to create more routes not reached by others before,” Fernandes said.