Way back in November 2017, Singapore’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan had said during his visit to India that “Singapore Airlines has partnered Tata to form Vistara (the full-service airline in India). All these investments are not done for political reasons, they are proof that we believe in India, its potential and future”. He wanted India to increase air connectivity with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations comprising Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Brunei) member countries to boost tourism, create jobs and deepen ties.
A close look at the figures will show what connectivity can achieve. ASEAN-India trade that amounted to $75 billion in 2015 is projected to reach approximately $200 billion by 2022 and connectivity will be necessary to facilitate and enhance cross-border trade and investment between the ASEAN countries and India. A study by the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), improved ASEAN-India connectivity could see over five per cent gains in the GDP for Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam, and a gain of more than two per cent for India.
Since then, quite a lot has happened. In January 2018, when leaders from 10 ASEAN nations were in Delhi to attend the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit. India and ASEAN laid out plans to enhance cooperation in aviation and boost air-links for better connectivity within the region