Asean seals deals to boost air and land links

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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 transport cooperation not just within the region but also with partners including China.

Singapore's Ministry of Transport 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.

This should enhance airspace capacity and safety, reduce flight delays and lower operational costs for airlines, the ministry said.

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.

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

The second agreement seeks to progressively reduce restrictions on trade in air transport ancillary services within Asean.