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Aviation industry must capitalise on lower oil prices: DPM Tharman
February 16, 2016 News

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SINGAPORE: The fall in oil prices presents an opportunity for the aviation industry to capitalise on new technologies, reshape businesses and develop new competencies, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam on Sunday, Feb 14.

For example, he said big data can be harnessed for predictive maintenance – “spotting and acting on problems before they emerge, and hence lowering costs”.

Mr Tharman, who is also the Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies, was speaking at the opening dinner of the Singapore Airshow Aviation Leadership Summit (SAALS) on Sunday.

He said that lower oil prices and rising demand for travel can be used to “open the skies further”.

He added: “If we do this right, we can maximise the spillovers to growth in our own economies and globally… If we stick with the status quo, or worse drift into further protection, we will not only hamper the growth of aviation but weaken its potential to stimulate economic growth.”

Describing the aviation industry as an enabler and catalyst for global growth, Mr Tharman also spoke of its importance to Singapore’s economic future.

“It contributes 6 per cent of our GDP, more than in most economies. Virtually every other sector of our economy depends on the efficiency and the advances that we make in aviation,” he said, adding that the sector is also a source of quality jobs for Singaporeans.

Mr Tharman said some of Singapore’s philosophy and strategies in supporting the future growth of aviation include prioritising aviation safety.

Pointing to a string of accidents that have taken place in the last two years, especially in Southeast Asia, he noted air mishaps are not just costly in terms of human lives, but also severely dent public confidence.

“Aviation safety must continue to take top priority in both domestic and international policy making, and we should certainly not let politics lead us to decisions that compromise safety,” said Mr Tharman.

Another priority, he added, is developing human capital for the aviation sector. In Singapore, the Government will be giving out more than 1,000 SkillsFuture Study Awards in various growth industries, including the aviation sector, for 2015-2016 financial year.

This year’s SAALS will be attended by about 150 public and private sector leaders in global aviation, including 20 ministers, 52 Directors-General of Civil Aviation, 27 Airline CEOs, and four heads of International Aviation Organisations.

Happening in junction with the Singapore Airshow from Feb 16 to 21, the SAALS is held over Feb 14 to 15. It is jointly organised by the Transport Ministry, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, the International Air Transport Association, and Experia Events.