ASEAN Open Skies

THE ASEAN community’s dream of a single aviation market, which was expected to come true at the end of 2015, remains unfulfilled as not all signatures required to ratify the ASEAN Open Sky Policy are in.

Alan Tan, professor of aviation law at the National University of Singapore, told TTG Asia e-Daily in an interview: “Indonesia has not opened up its secondary cities, and the Philippines and Laos have not done so for their capitals. The industry as well as governments, through the ASEAN Secretariat, should urge the remaining member states to complete the full ratification of the ASEAN instruments.”
Tan added: “Once these are fully open, we will have full and unlimited third, fourth and fifth freedom rights for ASEAN carriers to fly from points in their home countries to all points in the other countries.”
Two high-level industry personnel in the Philippines who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the obstacle to obtaining Philippine support lies in protectionism sentiments.
One of the sources revealed that “Cebu Pacific is alright with (the) signing, but not Philippine Airlines which is protecting its turf.”
The Philippine flag carrier is also reluctant about opening up Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila on grounds that the facility’s runways and terminals are already congested and no more slots for flights are available, the two sources shared.
However, they pointed out that Indonesia, which has also run out of slots for foreign carriers at its airports, had gone ahead to ratify the agreement.
Commenting on the issue, Centre for Asia-Pacific Aviation’s chief analyst, Brendan Sobie, said further liberalisation would be meaningless if there were insufficient landing slots.
Sobie elaborated: “This is not a topic worth exploring at this point, given the limited or zero impact from the ASEAN Open Sky Policy on the South-east Asian market. Slot restrictions rather than traffic rights are the main impediment to further growth.
“The open skies policy means nothing unless you are able to secure a take-off or landing slot at both ends of the route.”
Sharing similar sentiments, Tan said: “This is something the respective governments must address through building new infrastructure. The ASEAN Open Sky Policy cannot resolve that problem.”
Source: Paige Lee Pei Qi and Rosa Ocampo,

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