Asean, EU open the skies further with air travel pact

Representatives of Asean and EU at the signing ceremony of the Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement in Bali yesterday. Asean Secretariat

Asean and the European Union (EU) recently signed the world’s first bloc-to-bloc Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement (CATA), allowing airlines from both regions to fly any number of services between the two regions.

In addition, airlines of each country of one bloc will be able to fly up to 14 weekly passenger services and any number of cargo services to each country of the other bloc with ‘5th freedom traffic rights’, via any third country or beyond any third country, a release by the Asean Secretariat following the signing of the agreement at the 28th Asean Transport Ministers’ Meeting in
Bali, Indonesia, said.

Passengers can also look forward to a greater variety of destinations, more flight frequencies, and more travel options between Southeast Asia and Europe thanks to the new agreement.

According to the release, negotiations on the agreement commenced way back in 2016 and concluded on June 2, 2021 at the Extraordinary Asean-EU Senior Transport Officials Meeting. “The agreement will provide greater opportunities for airlines of Asean and the EU to operate passenger and cargo services between and beyond both regions, which will help bolster the recovery of air connectivity between the two regions following the Covid-19 pandemic,” it said.

The agreement provides a foundation for closer cooperation between Asean and the EU in areas such as aviation safety, air traffic management, consumer protection, and environmental and social matters. This deeper cooperation builds 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 Cooperation on Mitigating Climate Change Impact from Civil Aviation, Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation and the EU-Southeast Asia Aviation Partnership Project.

While describing the agreement as a significant milestone, Dato Lim Jock Hoi, the Secretary-General of Asean, said: “This year marks the 45th anniversary of Asean-European Union Dialogue Relations, and to commemorate this historic occasion, it is heartening that Asean and EU signed the world’s first region-to-region air transport agreement, which I believe will strengthen air transport services, connecting people, cultures, and businesses across continents, as well as supporting the sustainable growth of aviation.”

Adina Vălean, the European Commissioner for Transport, said: “The signing of this first-ever region-to-region air transport agreement between the EU and Asean brings our aviation partnership to a new level. The agreement will help to support the aviation sector’s recovery post-Covid-19, and restore much-needed connectivity between our two regions, to the benefit of some 1.1 billion people, by enabling greater business, trade, tourism and people-to-people exchanges. It replaces more than 140 bilateral air travel agreements, thereby providing a single set of rules and reducing red tape. The agreement also provides us with a new platform to work jointly towards our shared commitment to economically, socially and environmentally sustainable aviation.”

Budi Karya Sumadi, Chair of the 28th Asean Transport Ministers Meeting and the Minister of Transportation of Indonesia, said: “The agreement will create more harmonious synergies to accelerate economic recovery, especially air connectivity between Asean and Europe, and will re-invigorate the global economy, in particular in the two regions.”

Source: Khmer Times