Asean and EU seal historic pact to liberalise flight services

·Editorial Team
·2-min read
A passenger plane approaches for landing at Changi International Airport in Singapore on December 19, 2020. (Photo by Roslan RAHMAN / AFP) (Photo by ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images)
A passenger plane approaches for landing at Changi International Airport in Singapore on 19 December, 2020. (PHOTO: AFP via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — Airlines from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and the European Union (EU) will be able to fly any number of services between both regions, following the conclusion of negotiations on a historic aviation agreement on Wednesday (2 June).

The Asean-EU Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement (AE CATA), the world’s first bloc-to-bloc air transport agreement, was sealed at the virtual Extraordinary Asean-EU Senior Transport Officials Meeting, Asean said in a statement on Friday.

Under the agreement, airlines of Asean and the EU will have greater opportunities to operate passenger and cargo services between and beyond both regions. These include allowing airlines to fly up to 14 weekly passenger services, and any number of cargo services via and beyond to any third country.

"The agreement will help rebuild air connectivity between Asean and Europe which has been decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic and open up new growth opportunities for the aviation industry in both regions. Both parties expressed the intent to maintain close discussions and coordination to minimise disruptions to air services caused by the pandemic," according to the statement.

Asean noted that the agreement is built upon existing initiatives such as the Enhanced Asean Regional Integration Support from the EU (ARISE Plus) programme on technical assistance and capacity building; the EU-South East Asia on Cooperation on Mitigating Climate Change impact from Civil Aviation: Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (EU-SEA CCCA CORSIA), which supports CORSIA implementation; and the EU-South East Asia Aviation Partnership Project (EU-SEA APP).

Lim Jock Hoi, Secretary-General of Asean, said, “With US$10.5 billion of Foreign Direct Investment inflows and US$226.2 billion of trade in goods in 2020, the EU is already the third-largest source of investment and the third-largest trading partner for Asean. The AE CATA would significantly strengthen air connectivity between Asean and Europe and bring both regions even closer together. This would allow them to reap further economic benefits.”

Asean and the EU will now submit the AE CATA for legal purposes in preparation for signature at a later date to be confirmed.

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