SINGAPORE - The number of air passengers within Asean has tripled in the last decade, while the number of flight routes has increased by almost 40 per cent.
This was due to the region's liberal aviation policies, which led to the proliferation of low cost carriers and allowed many people to fly for the first time, said Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan on Monday (Feb 15).
Speaking at the Singapore Airshow Aviation Leadership Summit, Mr Khaw called for governments to put in place liberal aviation policies that will give companies the flexibility to respond to market changes and opportunities, amid challenges such as rising costs, increasing competition and a volatile economic environment.
Governments also need to play a firm regulatory role to ensure aviation safety, he said.
As more aircraft and unmanned aerial systems take to the skies, Air Navigation Service Providers - most of whom currently manage traffic in the confines of their assigned airspace - will have to work across borders to optimise the overall traffic flow, he said.
Governments are the key players in these integration efforts, he added.
Mr Khaw, who is also Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure, called for aviation regimes to share information and collaborate - not just across governments, but between government and industry as well.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, for instance, launched an open call for proposals on solutions to improve the productivity of baggage and cargo handling.
It will provide funding to successful proposals, and is an example of how the industry, academia and government can work together, he said.
Despite the near-term economic uncertainties, the longer term outlook for aviation is good as air traffic is expected to increase, Mr Khaw said.
He added that better equipment, better facilities and a larger, highly-trained workforce will be needed to manage the increasingly complex and busy skies.