Intensive Competition of the Aviation Industry of Asia: Exploring Opportunities in Singapore

Aviation Industry

Air transport sector of Singapore is the major contributor to the development of the Singaporean economy. In Singapore, there are more than 120 aerospace companies and has accumulated one-third part of the region’s maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) market and a leading comprehensive nose-to-tail MRO. World’s two top airframe MRO players are Singapore’s home-grown aviation companies, such as ST Aerospace and SIA Engineering. Along with MRO services, Singapore has seen tremendous growth over time in the number of companies that are offering aerospace design and manufacturing operations. Also, the country hosts a dedicated cluster of aerospace activities in 790-acre developed Seletar Aerospace Park.

The aviation industry is one of the fastest growing transportation sectors with the increasing connection of technology in the world. In 2017, commercial airlines generated global revenue to the value of US$ 534 billion and carried more than 4 billion passengers. Air transportation plays an important role in the development of any economy especially in developing countries, such as contribution to economic growth, tourism business, etc. In 2017, the numbers of international tourist arrivals increased to 1.32 billion from 1.24 billion in 2016, people are highly adopting air transportation, to reach their destination. In 2017, 61.5 million metric tons of cargo amounts to US$ 95.9 billion revenue were carried by air. Air transport is a mode to assist in and to enter the progress of world trade.

Singapore: A Vibrant and Attractive Destination:

Singapore has always been the first choice either for business travel, meetings, holiday destination or for exhibitions and conventions. Singapore Tourism Board has been supporting various events, such as VitaFoods Asia and the Singapore FinTech Festival to maintain its status as a top (Meetings, Incentive Travel, Conventions & Exhibitions) MICE city. Through such programs, people gather from several countries and explore Singapore. This is an opportunity for the Singaporean government to represent the country as an attraction centre for the world to invite various business deals from other countries, such as business meetings, tourism, exhibition centre, etc. Changi Airport of Singapore is the world’s seventh busiest airport and also features among Asia’s top five airports for air cargo. It provides services to more than 100 international airlines and Singapore is within a seven-hour flight radius to half the world’s population in the Asia-Pacific.

Singapore is a regional headquarter to the half of the 10 largest hotel groups globally, such as Hilton Worldwide, InterContinental Hotels Group, Carlson Rezidor, etc. Travel technology firms, such as Skyscanner, Rakuten Travel and TripAdvisor, etc. are keenly interested in expanding into Asia because of the attractive business environment and investment in entrepreneurship of Singapore that really helped companies in maintaining a steady ecosystem. Other than this, the Digital Light Canvas at Marina Bay Sands, AJ Hackett Bungy jump at Sentosa and Dover Street Market at Dempsey are the new attraction point for the tourists, with this, Maritime Experiential Museum at Resorts World Sentosa and Madame Tussauds at Sentosa enhanced tourism offerings.

Continuous Push for Aviation Industry to Innovate and Compete:

Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and STB amended the Travel Agents Act and Travel Agents Regulations to facilitate a pro-business environment and encourage more innovative offerings from the industry. To strengthen the regulatory framework for the industry sustainability and better consumer protection the authority taken necessary step. Despite the major challenges, such as geopolitical tensions that might affect consumer travel sentiments and intensifying regional competition, Singapore Tourism Board is supporting the Earn and Learn Programme run under the SkillsFuture initiative to attract foreign country trade to the own country. Also, STB is collaborating with lots of hotel stakeholders to launch a program of three years to attract young Singaporeans to join the hospitality industry, named Hotel Careers Campaign.

In 2017, the Singaporean government initiate a programme with an aim to induct Singaporean talents into the tourism sector and 97 ITE and Polytechnic students successfully enrolled. Marketing Innovation Programme (MIP) launched by STB in April last year to inspire innovative ways of marketing Singapore. Out of which, three campaigns were chosen for support from 44 applications received from businesses across a wide range of industries. Each of the three campaigns will receive a dollar-for-dollar matching award of up to S$300,000 to amplify their distribution. To build innovation and competition in the travel industry, STB is collaborating with Singapore Hotel Association (SHA) and the National Association of Travel Agents Singapore (NATAS) to inaugurate a Hotel Innovation Challenge and a Travel Agents Innovation Challenge respectively.

Plug and Play:

This is a San Francisco-based company support companies by providing them connections to interested corporations, mentorship, and access to funding. Plug and Play, a startup innovation platform based in Silicon Valley, has partnered with Singapore Airlines (SIA) to channelize digital solutions within the airline industry and to further promote creativity and innovation in the country towards the aviation sector. The company has launched its Plug and Play’s Travel & Hospitality programme in 2016 and has helped 95 startups in their development. Both are working together to identify and work with new ideas and technology-based new startups to develop solutions for business challenges in the aviation and travel sectors.


TripZilla is Singapore-based Southeast Asia’s leading digital travel media brand was founded in 2010. It has a monthly reach of 25 million and a strong following on both web and social media platforms. They target the niche audience, comprising of travellers who do travel research and bookings online from Southeast Asia. It has more than 200,000 subscribers, one of the largest opt-in travel mailing lists in the region. They are utilising the digital media space for unique travel content within the region to benefit businesses, marketers and consumers and building a strong brand face in the Singaporean air travel market.

Challenges for New Startups in the Aviation Industry:

Singapore has always been the first choice and one of the best places in Asia to start a startup because of its government grants and access to investors. World’s largest travel companies, such as Airbnb, Expedia, Skyscanner and Sabre have their regional headquarters in Singapore. But it is quite difficult for many of the startups to attract talent and get the needed funding from inside Singapore. There could be several reasons behind such an issue, one is, the number of industries in Singapore competing for tech talent. Singaporean talent is hard to find as the talent is required to seek out, and most of the talented professionals won’t always want to relocate, so you have to settle with the choices only.

The challenges the international air transport faces are numerous, such as from demographic shifts to environmental concerns, geopolitics to technological innovation and the winds that can buffet the industry come with many directions. It is important for the aviation industry to understand the potential landscape for airlines, where it can grow sustainably in the future and maximize its potential to deliver the economic and social benefits. Navigating the travel tech landscape is becoming an important criterion for the airline industry; agile tech-driven businesses are targeting airlines with all sorts of products and services. Digital Transformation and big data are also playing its crucial role in the airline industry. Several airline companies have successfully adopted technology and have put data at the centre of the business and they are not compromising with the spending on technology and digital.

Opportunities for Growth in the Aerospace Market:

The increasing number of air travellers every year, so the related jobs in the aviation industry is expected to be more than double in the next coming 20 years, according to a global airline body study. Where International Air Transport Association (IATA) said that this would increase the aviation industry’s contribution to Singapore’s GDP by the same quantum to an estimated US$ 65 billion (S$ 88 billion) in 2035. Singapore will remain the smallest air travel markets in the Asia- Pacific by passenger numbers but the growth of the country will outpace various neighbouring markets, such as Malaysia, Thailand and Hong Kong.

The intensely competitive travel industry of Asia is exploring opportunities to showcase as well as access innovative tourism concepts and business opportunities. Singapore is seeking for the events that cater to sectors, like attractions, cruise and gaming and exploring for the relevant industry which can scale up and prepare for the future, such as tourism investment, experience development, travel marketing and capability-building, etc. Singapore Tourism Industry is optimistically looking for the favourable global economic outlook to expand its tourism to the Asia-Pacific region. For quality tourism growth STB will augment its marketing efforts and roll out more initiatives in destination attractiveness to stay in the competitiveness of the industry. Billions of investments have been made by the forecasting bodies of Singapore to facilitate the growth in Asia’s air travel market and infrastructure with better preparation.

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