Indonesia and Laos have ratified the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) open skies agreement, meaning the pact has been ratified by all member countries.
A brief statement about full ratification appeared recently on the ASEAN secretariat’s web site.
Ratification means that carriers can fly between their home countries and any point in another ASEAN country. They are not allowed, however, to carry passengers domestically in other countries, or pick up passengers in an overseas destination and fly them to a third destination.
Neither Indonesia nor Laos issued statements regarding their ratification of the pact. The news also received little attention in the region’s media. The Indonesian and Laos ratifications follow that of the Philippines in February 2016.
“Airlines can thus launch any number of international flights as the market can support,” says aviation law professor Alan Tan.
“This is welcome news for travellers, as the previous governmental restrictions on capacity and competition have now been lifted. Travellers can thus look forward to more flights at more competitive prices. The biggest winners are the low-cost carriers like AirAsia, Tigerair and Cebu Pacific.”
He adds, however, that slot and capacity constraints at key airports such as Manila’s Ninoy Aquino Interntional Airport and Jakarta’s Soekarno Hatta are a barrier to ramping up regional traffic.
“Unlimited flight capacity is meaningless if airport and slot congestion remains unaddressed by governments,” says Tan.
“The ASEAN states should also continue to liberalise beyond the current situation. In particular, full fifth freedom rights that allow an airline from A to drop off and collect traffic from B en route to C should be allowed. For instance, Tigerair should be allowed to fly from Singapore to Jakarta and then Manila, or AirAsia from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore and then Yangon, even if the flights involve back-tracking.”
ASEAN comprises Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, and Indonesia.