SINGAPORE: Amid a cloudy economic outlook, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said that the longer-term outlook for aviation is "actually very good".
Mr Khaw, speaking at the Singapore Airshow Aviation Leadership Summit on Monday (Feb 15), highlighted both the near-term economic uncertainties and intensifying competition among air hubs as challenges.
That said, Singapore's Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure noted that there are bright spots in the longer term outlook for aviation, especially in Asia, with "millions of Asians yet to fly - and they are eager to go".
The International Air Transport Association's (IATA) Director General and CEO Tony Tyler, who also spoke at the conference, said there will be 1.8 billion new travellers in the Asia-Pacific by 2034.
The increased air traffic will mean crowded skies, Mr Khaw said. Other developments such as the increased use of unmanned aircraft will add a further layer of complexity to airspace management, on top of a heightened security environment. "It will no longer be business as usual for aviation."
In response to these developments, the Minister said governments should seek to harness the benefits of greater competition between air hubs and airlines, rather than stifle competition. He called on governments to put in place liberal aviation policies, such as the Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement that the EU and ASEAN are exploring.
And as aviation business becomes increasingly international, Mr Khaw said aviation regimes - including governments and the industry - should come together to share information and collaborate.
Governments should also play a firm regulatory role to ensure safety is not compromised, and better integrate air spaces, he added.