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ASEAN moves to boost air connectivity

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has taken steps to further integrate its skies and facilitate passenger flow among member countries.

At the 23rd ASEAN Transport Ministers Meeting, which closed in Singapore last week, the association adopted the ASEAN Air Traffic Management master plan to support the establishment of a seamless singlesky. When fully realised, the initiative will bring an increase in airspace capacity, reducing delays and operational costs for airlines while enhancing safety.

The ministers also moved to liberalise air services in the region. A protocol on domestic codeshare rights was inked to allow ASEAN carriers to expand their international networks without deploying their own metal, and also to increase coverage of thinner routes and build traffic for direct services.

Another agreement was also signed to progressively reduce restrictions on trade in air transport ancillary services within ASEAN. Examples include allowing 49% foreign equity from ASEAN member states in new aircraft catering services in Indonesia, and similar foreign equity of up to 51% in the aircraft leasing business in Malaysia.

The ministers also signed a deal for member states to mutually recognise flight crew licensing. This will ease validation or conversion of licenses and reduce regulatory resources, as well as costs for training organisations and simulator operators.

At the event, ASEAN member states also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Civil Aviation Administration of China relating to aircraft accident and incident investigation.

"As transport ministers we are mindful that transport is a critical enabler of our economic development. We will continue to work closely together to expand our transport links and connectivity, while ensuring safety, security and efficiency," says Singapore's transport minister Khaw Boon Wan.

"Our commitment to ASEAN's transport cooperation will help us achieve ASEAN's Vision 2020 and the Master Plan on ASEAN connectivity 2025."

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