US transportation secretary Norman Mineta rounded off a visit to Asia last week by signing an Open Skies air services agreement with Indonesia and a new accord with China.

The agreement with China was signed in Beijing on 24 July by Mineta and Civil Aviation Administration of China minister Yang Yuanyuan. It more than doubles the number of airlines that are allowed to fly between the two countries and allows for a near five-fold increase in flight frequencies.

The agreement with Indonesia was signed two days later on the resort island of Bali ahead of the opening of the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) forum transportation ministers' meeting. It removes all restrictions on flights between and beyond their territories.

Chinese and US negotiators initialled their agreement in Washington DC in June and the US side has already given Northwest Airlines and United Airlines some of the new rights.

The new rights will be phased in over a six-year period, eventually allowing 195 additional weekly flights for airlines from each country, including 111 by all-cargo carriers and 84 by passenger carriers. It also allows the number of airlines designated from each side to increase from four to nine.

Mineta says the agreement with Indonesia replaces an accord dating from the 1960s "that provided only limited commercial opportunities" to airlines from each side.



Source: Flight International