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ASEAN Agrees to Liberalize its Skies

Will Plans to Remove Inter-ASEAN Restrictions Between the Region's Capital Cities Also Extend to Secondary Destinations, Such as Bali?

(5/5/2007) The 10-member countries comprising the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have agreed to liberalize air traffic rights between the 10 ASEAN capital cities commencing in 2008.

The agreement, reached at the 15th ASEAN Transportation Working Group (AWTG) held in Palembang, South Sumatra in April, will open fourth freedom air rights between the capitals, effectively ending existing bi-lateral air agreements now in effect. Fourth freedom air rights address the right to carry passengers or cargo from another country to one's own.

According to Indonesia's Director of Air Communications, Tri S. Sunoko, the liberalization of fourth freedom air rights between ASEAN capital cities is expected to eventually expand by 2010 to also include fifth freedom rights - the right to carry passengers from one's own country to a second country, and from that country to a third country.

In practical terms, this change will eventually allow Singapore Airlines to carry unrestricted numbers of passengers between Jakarta and Singapore. It is unclear, however, if the removal of current passenger load restrictions will also extend to non-capital destinations such as Denpasar (Bali).