PETALING JAYA: Despite taking a hit during the pandemic, the nation’s general and business aviation sectors are on the path to recovery following the rollout of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme, says Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.
“Covid-19 has battered aviation in all forms. Business aircraft arrivals and departures at Subang airport in January and February this year were just under 300, compared with an average of 1,500 in 2020 and over 1,700 in 2019.
“But I believe that general aviation and business aviation in Malaysia are on the path to recovery following the government rollout of the vaccines, ” he said when launching the inaugural Asian Business Aviation Association (AsBAA) Malaysia Virtual Safety Forum here on Wednesday (March 31).
He noted that some 500,000 people are expected to be vaccinated under the first phase of the immunisation programme with a total of 9.4 million to be inoculated by year’s end.
In total, he said, some 13.7 million people in the country would have received the vaccine by early next year.
In view of this, the aviation sector must begin working with civil aviation authorities to review safety and business aspects so that the industry can get "right back into the game" as the economy recovers, he added.
Dr Wee also lauded AsBAA for registering its Malaysian chapter with the Registrar of Societies in December under the name Business Aviation Association.
“This bodes well for Malaysian general and business aviation as members of this community will have more access to AsBAA’s significant resources, via their membership in the Malaysian chapter," he added.
He said the Civil Aviation Authority Malaysia (CAAM) would keep AsBAA updated on the latest standards and safety issues affecting the general and business aviation sectors here.
In line with the forum’s theme, Dr Wee cited the recent helicopter accidents at Subang airport and Taman Melawati as examples of the need for safety awareness and compliance by aviation sectors.
“In light of these incidents, it was imperative for CAAM to quickly organise a mandatory safety briefing for all local helicopter operators, maintenance organisations and helicopter pilots in Malaysia, ” he said.
He added that this safety awareness exercise covers safety management training, hazard identification and risk assessment.
“We want to see more aviation operators conduct regular safety seminars and briefings to make safety awareness and compliance an ingrained culture.
“Safety must not be optional when using and enjoying private aviation," he said.
AsBAA, a non-profit member of the International Business Aviation Council and affiliated with the National Business Aviation Association USA, hosted the inaugural two-day virtual event which ends on Thursday (April 1).