Malaysia's AirAsia CEO calls for region-wide aviation body


KUALA LUMPUR (XFNews) - Malaysian budget carrier AirAsia Bhd on Sunday urged ASEAN countries to speed up deregulation in the aviation industry, saying such a move would lower costs and spur growth.

Chief executive Tony Fernandes said the 10-nation bloc had to harmonize regulatory requirements if it wanted to achieve the goal of a common market with open skies, and called for a European-style joint aviation authority.

"If you look at Europe, if Irish carrier Ryanair has a problem with an aircraft in France, they can deploy another plane from London. But I can't do that here," Fernandes told reporters.

"Engineers from one country can sign documents to certify an aircraft was air-worthy in another country. This is cost saving for the company," he said.

"I am sure that goes across all other industries. For us to have a common market, we must have a common standard across the industry. Otherwise the cost of business will go up for us," he said.

Fernandes said AirAsia was already talking with authorities in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand where it already has business units to map out a common standard in the industry.

ASEAN hopes to establish a common market by 2020.

The Malaysia-based airline has ordered 100 new Airbus A320 planes, due to start arriving this month, which are expected to make AirAsia the largest budget carrier in Asia by 2011.

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