Air link, bus trans­port pacts to boost travel within Asean

Min­is­ters reaf­firm com­mit­ment to en­hance co­op­er­a­tion not just within re­gion, but also with part­ners like China

The Straits Times - - TOPOF THE NEWS - Karamjit Kaur Se­nior Avi­a­tion Cor­re­spon­dent

Asean has taken key steps to in­te­grate its skies and ease cross-bor­der bus trans­port, giv­ing res­i­dents more travel op­tions within the re­gion and in­dus­try play­ers more op­por­tu­ni­ties to ben­e­fit from the growth in the de­mand for air travel.

At the close of the 23rd Asean Trans­port Min­is­ters Meet­ing in Sin­ga­pore yes­ter­day, mem­ber states inked five ini­tia­tives and adopted six, reaf­firm­ing the bloc’s com­mit­ment to­wards en­hanc­ing trans- port co­op­er­a­tion not just within the re­gion, but also with part­ners, in­clud­ing China.

The an­nual meet­ings seek to deepen intra-re­gional col­lab­o­ra­tion, ex­pand­ing agree­ments and green­light­ing new ini­tia­tives.

Sin­ga­pore’s Min­istry of Trans­port (MOT) said the deals inked this time in­clude the adop­tion of the Asean Air Traf­fic Man­age­ment Master Plan to fa­cil­i­tate and man­age air­craft move­ment across the re­gion in a more in­te­grated man­ner.

When fully re­alised, this should en­hance airspace ca­pac­ity and safety, re­duce flight de­lays and lower opera- tional costs for air­lines, the min­istry said in a state­ment.

Min­is­ters also signed two agree­ments to lib­er­alise air ser­vices in the re­gion.

The first is to al­low do­mes­tic code-share rights be­tween points within the ter­ri­tory of any Asean mem­ber state. This means a Sin­ga­pore car­rier can part­ner an In­done­sian air­line to of­fer Sin­ga­pore trav­ellers a sin­gle book­ing for a Sin­ga­pore-Jakarta flight and, from there, to another In­done­sian des­ti­na­tion op­er­ated by the In­done­sian car­rier.

Cur­rently, code-share ser­vices are lim­ited to in­ter­na­tional flights such as Sin­ga­pore-Jakarta ones.

Lib­er­al­i­sa­tion means Asean air­lines may ex­pand their in­ter­na­tional net­works with­out de­ploy­ing their own air­craft, the state­ment said.

For trav­ellers, it will mean more flight op­tions and con­ve­nient trans­fers from one air­line to another.

Such en­hanced co­op­er­a­tion will en­able the greater move­ment of peo­ple and goods, ben­e­fit­ing Asean economies and busi­nesses, and ex­pand­ing tourism, MOT added.

The sec­ond agree­ment seeks to pro­gres­sively re­duce re­stric­tions on trade in air trans­port an­cil­lary ser­vices within Asean. This in­cludes eas­ing own­er­ship re­stric­tions for a com­pany from one Asean state to set up a firm in another mem­ber coun­try to of­fer ground-han­dling ser­vices at air­ports, for in­stance.

In the area of man­power de­vel­op­ment, Asean states agreed to mu­tu­ally recog­nise li­cens­ing re­quire­ments for flight crew, in­clud­ing pi­lots. Li­cences can be val­i­dated or con­verted with greater ease, so that flight crew may more eas­ily join another Asean car­rier.

Out­side the re­gion, Asean and China inked a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing to boost co­op­er­a­tion among the au­thor­i­ties that over­see air­craft ac­ci­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tions. This would pave the way for the shar­ing of in­ves­ti­ga­tion fa­cil­i­ties, equip­ment and ex­per­tise.

To fa­cil­i­tate land trans­fers, the Asean Frame­work Agree­ment on the Fa­cil­i­ta­tion of Cross Bor­der Trans­port of Pas­sen­gers by Road Ve­hi­cles was inked to make it eas­ier for buses to move be­tween bor­ders.

This will in­crease con­ve­nience for com­muters and cre­ate more com­mer­cial and in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties for trans­port and other firms, MOT said.

Speak­ing at the clos­ing cer­e­mony of the 23rd Asean Trans­port Min­is­ters Meet­ing, Mr Khaw Boon Wan, Co­or­di­nat­ing Min­is­ter for In­fra­struc­ture and Min­is­ter for Trans­port, said closer co­op­er­a­tion be­tween mem­ber states “will make a real dif­fer­ence to rais­ing the qual­ity of life for our peo­ple, cre­at­ing good­pay­ing jobs and con­tribut­ing to peace and sta­bil­ity in the re­gion”.

The next meet­ing will be held in Thai­land next year.

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