Asian Air Carriers Face Shortages, Safety Concerns


The crash of AirAsia 8501 on Sunday has raised questions about the safety record of Indonesia’s fast-growing aviation industry. While investigators search the Java Sea for clues to the cause of the crash, a New York Times report this week said Indonesia ranks low among other nations in airline safety practices and is one of nine countries with a failing safety grade from the FAA. The European Union prohibits 62 Indonesian carriers from flying to Europe due to these concerns, according to the Times’ report. AirAsia is no longer on that list and has improved its safety record, the report said.

Meanwhile, rapid growth of airline service in Southeast Asia — which has been a boon to manufacturers including Airbus and Boeing — has millions more people traveling via budget carriers such as AirAsia, The Associated Press reported this week. That has led to shortages of pilots and other personnel while people relocate to other parts of the world such as the Middle East for better-paying aviation jobs, the AP reported. Lim Chee Meng, CEO of a Singapore-based aviation training company, told the AP that airline wages in the region haven’t risen enough to make up for the cost of training, leaving carriers with staff shortages amid growing workloads. “It can lead to cascading effects down the road that can contribute to safety issues … which is a big problem,” he said.