Thursday, March 25, 2010

ASEAN To Sign Open-Skies Accord Next Month In Vietnam


Aviation Daily Mar 25 , 2010 , p. 12
Neelam Mathews

An open-skies agreement among 10 of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations member countries may be signed by their transport ministers at the 16th ASEAN summit in Ho Chi Min City, Vietnam, on April.8.

The 10 members of ASEAN (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam), recently adopted a multilateral agreement that seeks to liberalize market access, as well as ownership and control requirements, for air carriers in the region. The agreement is a precursor to an eventual single aviation market arrangement targeted for 2015.

Talks on the ASEAN open-skies framework among member countries started in 2003. They included phased plans for liberalizing intra-ASEAN freight and passenger air services.

The open-skies pact will liberalize air space among the 10 members to enable regional carriers unlimited flights among capital cities. The agreement would also encourage more airlines to land in the country by removing certain tariffs and add-on expenses, increasing flights and providing more options for passengers, says Sydney think tank Center for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA).

A major effect of deregulation has been on the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore city-pair, where frequencies grew by 72.5% in September last year, compared with September 2008, after regulatory constraints were removed. Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia, Silk Air, Tiger Airways, Singapore Airlines and Jetstar now operate the route. The Singapore-Kuala Lumpur route is now the second-largest sector from Singapore with 39,248 weekly seats, behind the Singapore-Jakarta sector with its 49,022 weekly seats, says CAPA.

Limited open-skies agreements have already been ratified within sub-groups, such as Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, and among Singapore, Brunei and Thailand. Outside the bloc, Singapore has already signed several open-skies agreements with more than 30 countries, including the U.S, UAE, Australia and the U.K., and 17 European Union member states. Malaysia is promoting itself as a hub for budget carriers in Asia.

While, the agreement will open airport development in ASEAN countries, there remains quiet trepidation concerning the loss of state sovereignty that may affect efforts to synchronize safety and technical standards, aviation security and competition procedures.

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