Malaysiakini reported in S'pore 'committed' to freer skies with M'sia that the Transport Ministry proclaimed:
“Singapore is fully committed to liberalising air services between our two countries as soon as possible."
"This includes not only the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur route, but also between Singapore and additional cities in Malaysia."
The Ministry also added that freer skies would bring the neighbours ‘one step closer’ to Asean's goal of lifting all restrictions on passenger flights between the bloc's capital cities by December 2008.
May I assume logically that Malaysiakini has been referring to the “Singapore” Transport Ministry?
The (?) Transport ministry made the comments after AirAsia won a long battle to fly the lucrative Singapore-Kuala Lumpur route, breaking a 35-year stranglehold by national carriers Singapore Airlines and Malaysia Airlines. The Ministry also said that Singapore and Malaysian officials will meet soon to discuss the expansion of their air services agreement.
If you look at the traditional exchange of entry points, or routes between points – like KL – Singapore – KL (or if you are on the other side, Singapore – KL – Singapore), and of course Singapore – Penang –Singapore - it's always one for an equal one.
But in the final analysis, Singapore has only one landing point to offer, even if it opens up all major airports on the Island. But in Malaysia, there’s KL, Penang, Kuching, KK, Sandakan, etc. Likewise with other ASEAN nations (except Brunei).
The only advantage for Malaysia in the ‘freer skies’ that a teeny weeny nation like Singapore naturally favours, would be that other (foreign) airlines would bring in tourists. As Malaysia is currently hell-bent on growing its tourist industry, we have to accept and rely on foreign airlines like the giant SIA to do the job (of bringing in tourists) for us.
If our MAS was as strong (through superior management and superior vision), we would have better bargaining powers and be less dependent on airlines of other nations to bring tourists into Malaysia. But in relying on them, we derpive our own airlines of their rightful market share.
But what I dread is that Malaysia may even surrender cabotage rights away to the airlines of Singapore.
Wiki has this to say about ‘cabotage’:
Cabotage is the transport of goods or passengers between two points in the same country. Originally starting with shipping, cabotage now also covers aviation, railways and road transport.
Cabotage is "trade or navigation in coastal waters, or, the exclusive right of a country to operate the air traffic within its territory."
Cabotage is commonly used as part of the term "cabotage rights," the right of a company from one country to trade in another country. In aviation terms, it is the right to operate within the domestic borders of another country. Most countries do not permit cabotage by foreign companies ...
In other words, this means the restriction to foreign airlines of the right to fly between Malaysian airports, or domestic routes, like Penang to KK, or Kuching to KL, or KL to KK, etc.
As Wiki poined out, most nations don’t or very rarely surrender cabotage. Look at what Singapore can offer in return? Changi to Paya Lebar? Tengah to Sembawang?
It's no wonder Singapore promotes the need for 'free skies'. It has everything to gain and nothing to lose.
But I fear with a powerful, sophisticated and very effective Singapore keiretsu-ish aviation juggernaut bargaining, and certain personalities in our current regime in pally buddy relationship, Malaysia may just sell the family aviation jewels away.