Here’s the reason Southeast Asia’s skies are getting so chaotic

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Photo: Omair Haq

BANGKOK, Thailand — The motto for AirAsia, the carrier that recently lost a plane packed with passengers from the coast of Indonesia, is “Now Everybody can Fly.”

That slogan may also help explain why Indonesian flights were so liable to both small mishaps and outright disasters in the past decade.

Not everyone is able to fly in Indonesia, where roughly part of the 250 million people gets by on a lot less than $2 on a daily basis. Nonetheless the island nation — combined with most Southeast Asia — gives you a booming middle class that can finally manage to fly as an alternative to getting a creaky bus.

Their appetite for inexpensive flights is fed by way of a dizzying wide variety of budget airlines, several of which are quite new. But AirAsia will be the region’s undisputed budget flight king, a carrier recognized for hostesses in snug red skirts. Its network is very large cover up podunk towns, major capitals, as well as points among.

Its flights are very inexpensive.

The jet that disappeared — flying from Surabaya, Indonesia’s second largest city, to cosmopolitan Singapore — travels with a route offering tickets for as few as $28. AirAsia flights lasting under one hour often sell for less than $100.

AirAsia’s founder, a charismatic Malaysian named Tony Fernandes, is unabashedly frugal. An aviation industry colleague previously told GlobalPost that “Tony would be the guy who does reach conferences and collect the many free pens to economise.”

Since the 1970s, Singapore Airlines has experimented with project a picture of glamorous go Southeast Asia. At the present time, the normal flier this is the workaday commuter packed into an AirAsia flight eating $1 instant noodles.

AirAsia’s popularity has inspired several budget airline imitators. Southeast Asia’s skies can be more crowded than before. Just to illustrate: when pilots on missing flight 8501 sought permission to ascend to 38,000 feet, the request was rejected mindful about were so many other jets flying nearby.
The tempo of flights over Southeast Asia is scheduled to enhance a lot more. There are many than 800 small, single-aisle airplanes operating in Southeast Asia today but, as outlined by Boeing, that figure will explode to just about 3,000 in the next 20 years.

All those added flights need to have a rapid continuing development of skilled air traffic controllers, ground crews, pilots and safety officials. Some worry the region’s aviation system could crack underneath the pressure.

In Indonesia — a sprawling archipelago recognized for low pay and corruption — the prognosis is a bit worrisome.

The last decade has witnessed at least four crashes involving 100s of fatalities alongside recurring non-fatal mishaps and other scandals, including one airline called Lion Air that fired multiple pilots to get on top of meth. Indonesian aviation has witnessed a safety turnaround in recent years yet virtually a handful of carriers are deemed unsafe to fly into Europe.

While AirAsia’s safety record was solid until Sunday, the flight 8501 disaster comes at the woeful here we are at Southeast Asian aviation, which can be still reeling from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which mysteriously vanished, and flight 17, downed over Ukraine.

AirAsia’s Fernandes, who told GlobalPost last year that he’s an “incorrigible optimist,” described the plane’s disappearance as his “worst nightmare.” But there’s little indication that your crisis will dent the interest in more and more cheap flights, which will keep putting pressure by using an already overtaxed aviation system.

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