As countries cautiously begin to reopen borders closed by the Covid-19 pandemic, ASEAN and the European Union have reached a landmark aviation agreement, the first region-to-region pact of its kind, which will allow more of thefts between them.
Under the ASEAN-EU Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement, airlines from 37 ASEAN member countries and the EU will be able to provide unlimited services between the two regions.
They will also be able to perform up to 14 weekly passenger services and an unlimited number of freight services via and beyond to any third country.
This could lead to more non-stop flights between Singapore and major European hubs, creating more competition between airlines and resulting in cheaper fares on these routes, an expert said.
Singapore’s Ministry of Transport (MOT) said yesterday that the deal would improve air connectivity between Asean and Europe and facilitate people-to-business exchanges.
“This will help support economic development in both regions as we work towards recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic,” MOT said.
“In addition to the liberalization of air services, the (agreement) provides for cooperation between ASEAN and the EU in areas such as aviation safety, air traffic management, consumer protection and environmental issues and social. “
The agreement was first discussed in February 2014 at an aviation summit between ASEAN and the EU in Singapore.
Eight rounds of negotiations followed, starting in October 2016, before the deal was concluded, the transport ministry said. Singapore led the negotiations for ASEAN, while the European Commission led the negotiations for the EU.
Singapore Transport Minister S. Iswaran said: “The successful conclusion of the ASEAN-EU Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement is a historic achievement and a milestone in our bilateral relationship.
“This is the first such region-to-region agreement and a declaration of commitment by ASEAN and EU member states to work together to overcome (them) the current crisis. of Covid-19, reconnect and resume cross-border travel. “
ASEAN Secretary General Lim Jock Hoi said the deal would allow ASEAN and Europe to reap further economic benefits, with the EU already the third largest source of investment and the third partner Asean commercial.
The two organizations will now submit the agreement for verification by lawyers, with its signature due at a later date.
Professor Alan Tan of the National University of Singapore Law School, whose specializations include aviation law, said the deal would allow unlimited non-stop flights for Singaporean carriers to places like Paris which may currently have restrictions on such flights.
There could also be more transatlantic flights ridden by carriers from Singapore to the Americas via cities such as Paris, Berlin, Rome, Madrid and Lisbon, he said.
“With more competition and choice, travelers should expect to enjoy more competitive fares on these routes,” said Professor Tan.
However, smaller European cities are less likely to benefit from the deal if the demand for flights is “just not there,” he noted.
The ability to operate more services will also help airlines enter new markets as they seek to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.
But Professor Tan has warned that the deal is “no quick fix.”
“Its impact will likely be modest, at least in the early years,” he noted.
This is due to the limited number of connecting flights to a third country which can be operated on new routes to protect legacy airlines, acute capacity constraints at some European airports and the formidable competition posed by Middle Eastern carriers. Orient, he said.
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