AirAsia founder and CEO Tony Fernandes have called for greater Aviation integration in Southeast Asia

ASEAN currently has no regional agencies overseeing Aviation safety, or coordinating Air traffic control - issues that have come to the forefront since the crash of AirAsia Flight QZ8501 in December. 

In an interview with Channel News Asia at the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Fernandes began by talking about QZ 8501 s recovery efforts.

My primary concern is the families and returning our guests to the families,” he said.”We seem to be making some headway with the Indonesian rescue authorities in that they are making progress in removing the hull and we are finding some of our of our guests there. I think we are up to about 60 plus and that is our key concern.
Q: Are you happy with the way the process is going?
A: I think Indonesia has done a very good transparent process and have worked very hard in locating the plane in what is very, a very difficult weather condition. Credit to the divers and credit to the navy and the BASARNAS (Indonesian search authority)
Q: At this stage, are there specific recommendations that you would make in the experience of this as to how things might be improved as to what things should be done next as a lesson from this event?
A: No, I think it's too early to know what happened. But what I can say is that at AirAsia, we are looking at everything we do. Everything has been certified, everything has been run by Airbus in the past. But we are not waiting for the investigation; we are looking to see what we can improve straight away.
Q: I ask because you have said before that the harmonisation of the way practices are conducted, the way Air traffic controllers talk to one another - so many elements of doing air travel properly in ASEAN may not be quite joining as they might.
A: I don't think the non-harmonisation led to the accident. But I think having one Aviation authority improves standards for everybody and makes it easier for businesses to operate. And I think that goes across not just Aviation, across everything.

“If ASEAN is to be a common market, investors have to see us as a common market, which means one approving authority - you get one license to operate in ten countries. I point that as a point from Aviation.

"Going back to the earlier discussion, ASEAN has the ability now to set world standards. So if we are going to have an ASEAN Aviation authority and an ASEAN banking authority, they should be based on the very best standards. And that makes our companies able to compete globally as well.
Q: Are you of the mind that an ASEAN Aviation authority is likely to arrive at any point?
A: I think some of the Aviation authorities are very open to it, others aren't. But I think this is what debate is about, this is what communication is about and this is what we are doing here. I think the pace is going to start accelerating now.

Susweta Bose  [Masters in Mass Comm ] 
Sub Editor