The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the European Union (EU) have concluded negotiations on a bilateral air transport agreement that will allow for unlimited flying between the two regions.

The ASEAN-EU Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement (AE CATA) is the world’s first such agreement between two blocs. The EU and ASEAN represent 37 nations between them.

“Airlines of ASEAN and the EU will be able to fly any number of services between both regions. In addition, airlines will be able to fly up to 14 weekly passenger services, and any number of cargo services via and beyond to any third country,” the two regions said in a joint statement on 4 June.

The agreement will also see increased cooperation on aviation safety, air traffic management, consumer protection, and environmental and social matters.

The two blocs hope that the agreement will help rebuild air links that have been decimated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

ASEAN highlights that the EU is the third largest source of investment and the third largest trading partner for ASEAN, with $10.5 billion of foreign direct investment inflows and $226.2 billion of trade in goods in 2020.

ASEAN secretary general H.E. Dato Lim Jock Hoi said: “The AE CATA would significantly strengthen air connectivity between ASEAN and Europe and bring both regions even closer together. This would allow them to reap further economic benefits.”

Adina Valean, European Commissioner for Transport, says of the agreement that: “It provides essential guarantees of fair competition for our European airlines and industry, while strengthening reciprocal prospects for trade and investment in some of the world’s most dynamic markets. Importantly, this new agreement also provides us with a solid platform to continue promoting the high standards on safety, security, air traffic management, environment and social matters going forward.”

The agreement will now be submitted for legal scrubbing, with the signature to come at a later date, the two sides say.

Adina Valean, EC transport commissioner

Source: EC audiovisual service

European transport commissioner Adina Valean welcomed the agreement