(File pix) While there have been efforts to expand airports, like the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, to manage capacity issues, governments and operators need to equip them with the right technologies in tier one and tier two cities that are expected to see growth in air travel.

SINGAPORE: ASEAN has progressed tremendously in liberalising its skies over the last decade, but the question is whether the region is ready for full liberalisation, said Honeywell International Inc’s Vice President, Airlines, Asia Pacific & Aerospace Leader, Brian Davis.

Describing the full ratification of the ASEAN Open Skies agreement as a key milestone in 2016, he said Malaysia, for instance, would benefit significantly from the rise in intra-ASEAN travel.

However, its airports might face near-term struggles in coping with an influx of travelers, he added during an interview in conjunction with the recent Singapore Airshow 2018.

Davis’ employer, Honeywell, is a New Jersey-based global software-industrial company that offers solutions such as aerospace products.

Citing a report by the Malaysian Aviation Commission, Davis said Malaysia was the third largest aviation passenger market in Southeast Asia, and passenger traffic is forecast to grow by between 7.8 and 8.8 per cent for last year, equivalent to about 98.3 million to 99.2 million passengers.

While there have been efforts to expand airports, like the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, to manage capacity issues, governments and operators need to equip them with the right technologies in tier one and tier two cities that are expected to see growth in air travel, he said.

“The United Nations projects that tier two cities in South-East Asia like Samut Prakan (Thailand) or Batam (Indonesia) will experience the fastest rates of growth, with their population expected to more than double by 2025.

“These cities are fundamental to the growth of their nations’ economy as therein lie many untapped opportunities for the aviation industry to grow,” he added.

Davis noted that airlines also need to start innovating their on-board technologies and maintenance operations to maximise efficiency and safety, or otherwise, risked compromising passenger safety and faced significant revenue losses from flight delays and unexpected downtime.

“This is especially important for low-cost carriers (LCCs) that are expected to dominate the skies and be among the main beneficiaries during this boom in air travel.

“As Malaysia continues to strive towards ASEAN’s goal of achieving a ‘single sky’, new routes within the region will also open up, pushing LCCs to step up to meet the growing passenger demand,” he said.

Honeywell believes that investing in the right air traffic management technologies, such as Honeywell’s SmartPath ground-based augmentation system, can help airports and airlines cope with the rise in air traffic in Malaysia.

Furthermore, maintenance, repair and overhaul play a significant role in helping to improve an airline’s bottom line by reducing unexpected aircraft downtime, said Davis.

Honeywell has been successful in leveraging on its GoDirect Connected Maintenance services, which use connectivity and data analytics, to help airlines such as Cathay Pacific and Hainan Airlines, improve maintenance operations and reduce equipment downtime, he added. - Bernama