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Thailand hots meeting on ASEAN 'open skies'

With the launch of Southeast Asia’s free-trade area just months away, Thailand hosted a meeting last week of more than 100 aviation experts to spur progress on integrating the aviation market and creating “open skies” among the 10 nations of the region.
 
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Economic Community (AEC) will create a united market of over 620 million people.  As barriers to trade, investment and labor fall, the already increasing air travel within the region and among neighboring countries is likely to grow exponentially.  Open skies would also benefit Thailand and other countries by facilitating greater numbers of tourists.
 
The ASEAN Single Aviation Market aims to link the region with Europe, China, India and South Korea, all of which have signed or are negotiating free-trade agreements with the AEC that will extend the group’s reach beyond Southeast Asia. Aviation liberalization has been designated one of the 12 priority developments for the region.
 
Government representatives, industry leaders and European aviation experts participated in the meeting designed to create “open skies” over ASEAN.  However, many cautioned against high expectations, saying that liberalization would at best be only partially achieved by the time of the launch of the AEC.
 
“We are not there yet — it's a long process — but we have created foundations,” said Tran Dong Phuong, director of finance, industry and infrastructure at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta, Indonesia.
 
He said most ASEAN member states had already ratified all the agreements and protocols necessary to initiate the open skies regime.  However, some less developed member states need more time to be able to meet the commitments, he said.
 
ASEAN consists of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Viet Nam.
 
Tran said a single aviation market will allow member states to achieve greater integration in all aspects of the sector, including air service liberalization, aviation safety and security, and air traffic management.  The initiative should allow the ASEAN aviation industry to grow and become more competitive by taking advantage of economies of scale.
 
ASEAN is trying to achieve the “freedoms of the air,” a set of nine commercial aviation rights recognized by many countries. A few of the nine freedoms are nearly universally recognized, but some others are more controversial and not accepted by many countries.
 
The first two freedoms deal with transit rights, the next five cover traffic rights and the final two relate to cabotage or the right to transport goods or people between two points in a country by an airline registered in another country.
 
See the original Article at : http://www.thaiembassydc.org/?p=2444

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