Asean 'seeks to ratify three open-sky pacts by year end'

Asean transport ministers aim to intensify efforts to set up a single regional aviation market, Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said yesterday.

It was hoped that three open-sky agreements signed by all 10 Asean countries could be fully ratified by the end of this year, he said.

Datuk Seri Liow was speaking after the 21st Asean Transport Ministers Meeting in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. The two-day event was also attended by dialogue partners China, Japan and South Korea.

Although Mr Liow was hopeful that all 10 nations would meet the year-end target, he admitted that a few still faced challenges in implementing the open-sky protocols covering passengers, freight liberalisation and air services.

"Countries cannot just open up their markets to outsiders immediately. You must look at their preparedness, infrastructure, safety and security issues before that. It is very complicated," he said.

"However, Asean is on a positive track and the aviation market is growing steadily. We have been making a lot of inroads (to fully establishing an Asean single aviation market) ever since we started negotiating this almost 10 years ago," he said on the sidelines of the meeting.

The Asean single aviation market is intended to increase regional and domestic connectivity and enhance regional trade. It gives Asean states the right to fly to another member country without government approval.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 07, 2015, with the headline 'Asean 'seeks to ratify three open-sky pacts by year end''. Print Edition | Subscribe