The recent crash of Indonesia AirAsia Flight QZ8501 in the Java Sea will not deter Indonesia’s aviation industry from embracing the opportunities offered by the Asean Open Skies policy, a scheme to liberalize the regional aviation market that came into effect on Jan. 1. Under the new policy, Southeast Asia’s skies will be transformed into a single aviation market, part of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (Asean) Economic Community commitments that have been agreed upon by heads of the 10 members states of bloc.
Asean Open Skies, set to be fully effective by the end of the year, is expected to boost connectivity and people’s movements in the region, and in turn spur regional economic growth. Three major tragedies afflicting Southeast Asia’s aviation sector last year — the loss of two Malaysia Airlines flights and the AirAsia tragedy — have raised questions as about whether Asean will remain on track for its Open Skies plan. On Sunday, Indonesian Transportation Ministry spokesman J.A. Bharata said the policy was still on course.
“We’re currently revamping our airlines, evaluating their compliance with existing regulations to further improve passengers’ safety,” Bharata said, adding that the moves were conducted to support Indonesia’s implementation of the policy. The renewed scrutiny comes in the wake of the crash of Flight QZ8501, which went missing shortly after departing from Juanda International Airport in Surabaya on Dec 28, en route to Singapore with 162 people on board. The Transportation Ministry has since declared that the carrier did not have permission to fly that route on a Sunday, although Singapore officials say it was cleared at that end for the flight.