Asean states ink initiatives to enhance travel links

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan (centre), flanked by Brunei's Communications Minister Mustappa Sirat (at right) and Permanent Secretary at Brunei's Ministry of Communications Azhar Ahmad, visiting Changi Airport's Terminal 4 yesterday.
Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan (centre), flanked by Brunei's Communications Minister Mustappa Sirat (at right) and Permanent Secretary at Brunei's Ministry of Communications Azhar Ahmad, visiting Changi Airport's Terminal 4 yesterday.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

With ambitious plans to enhance land, sea and air links in the region, Asean member states have sealed new commitments to boost them.

Enhanced cooperation is expected to not just deepen ties between the countries, but also increase travel and trade within the 10-member grouping.

At the close of the 23rd Asean Transport Ministers Meeting in Singapore yesterday, member states inked five initiatives and adopted six, focused mainly on the aviation sector.

Among other objectives, they will provide travellers with more flight options by reducing restrictions on Asean carriers, and boosting intra-Asean traffic, which has grown strongly over the years.

In 2009, when the first of the Asean air services agreements was signed, the region recorded 49 million two-way passenger movements.

This increased to 89 million last year, translating into a compound average growth rate of 9 per cent during the time.

There are also plans to better integrate flight movements so that Asean skies can handle more air travel as the demand continues to increase.

Speaking at the closing of the two-day talks held at Marina Bay Sands, Mr Khaw Boon Wan, Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Minister for Transport, said that the agreements would "directly benefit our countries, our companies and our people".

Karamjit Kaur

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 14, 2017, with the headline 'Asean states ink initiatives to enhance travel links'. Print Edition | Subscribe