Khaw on need to focus on aviation and maritime as well

Challenges loom ahead for the aviation and maritime sectors, said Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan yesterday in a blog post.

In a departure from his usual focus on land transport issues, Mr Khaw pointed out the "strong headwinds and turbulence" facing both industries, which can impact the economy and the jobs of Singaporeans.

He said that while he will "spend a lot of time" on issues of rail reliability and buses, he will also have to focus on the aviation and maritime sectors.

On the aviation front, Mr Khaw noted that passenger traffic growth at Changi Airport has slowed down in the last two years, and the Government is looking into getting it back "on the path of growth".

On issues of airspace management, it was reported that Indonesia wants to manage the Flight Information Region over the airspace above the Riau region, he said. This airspace is currently managed by Singapore, as approved by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, to ensure flight safety as well as efficient flight operations of airlines and airports, Mr Khaw added.

Stating the importance of the aviation sector, he said the industry accounts directly for about 6 per cent of the economy and more than 160,000 jobs. Likewise, the maritime industry contributes some 7 per cent to the country's GDP and provides more than 170,000 jobs.

"Our sea port faces competition from neighbouring ports all the time. Alternative trade routes such as the Arctic Route and the proposed Kra Canal could also result in ships bypassing Singapore," Mr Khaw said.

He added that the Government spends a lot of "management time and bandwidth" on issues concerning aviation and maritime.

"This is not an excuse for the next train disruption. We are doing our best to make our rail system even more reliable," he wrote.

Adrian Lim

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 10, 2015, with the headline 'Khaw on need to focus on aviation and maritime as well'. Print Edition | Subscribe