ASEAN, EU conclude landmark air transport deal

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the European Union (EU) have concluded negotiations on the world’s first bloc-to-bloc air transport agreement that will allow airlines of ASEAN and the EU to operate passenger and cargo services between the regions and beyond.

The ASEAN-EU Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement (AE CATA), the first region-to-region aviation agreement in the world, was concluded on June 2, 2021 at the Extraordinary ASEAN-EU Senior Transport Officials Meeting held virtually, a joint press release said.

The AE CATA is expected to bolster connectivity and economic development among the 37 member states of ASEAN and the EU, the statement said.

Under the agreement, airlines of ASEAN and the EU will have greater opportunities to operate passenger and cargo services between and beyond both regions.

Airlines of ASEAN and the EU will be able to fly any number of services between both regions.

In addition, airlines will be able to fly up to 14 weekly passenger services and any number of cargo services via and beyond to any third country.

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

“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,” said the release.

The AE CATA will also provide a foundation for closer cooperation in areas such as aviation safety, air traffic management, consumer protection, and environmental and social matters.

The successful conclusion of the AE CATA marks the culmination of eight rounds of negotiations that started in October 2016. The AE CATA was first seeded in February 2014 at the EU-ASEAN Aviation Summit in Singapore, where the European Commission announced its intention to secure a mandate to begin negotiations with ASEAN, according to a release from the Ministry of Transport of Singapore.

The EU is the third largest source of investment and the third largest trading partner of ASEAN, with US$10.5 billion of foreign direct investment inflows and $226.2 billion of trade in goods in 2020, according to Lim Jock Hoi, secretary-general of ASEAN.

Adina Vălean, the European commissioner for transport, said: “The conclusion of this first-ever ‘bloc-to-bloc’ air transport agreement marks an important milestone in the EU’s external aviation policy. It provides essential guarantees of fair competition for our European airlines and industry, while strengthening reciprocal prospects for trade and investment in some of the world’s most dynamic markets.”

Sun Chanthol, chair of the ASEAN Transport Ministers Meeting and minister of public works and transport of Cambodia, said the agreement will result in significant greater connectivity between ASEAN and the EU, “benefitting a population of 1.1 billion people and enabling greater business, trade, tourism and people-to-people links between both regions.”

(For the full report, visit PORTCALSS)

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