The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the European Union (EU) concluded the world's first bloc-to-bloc air transport agreement recently.
The parties concluded the negotiations on the ASEAN-EU Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement (AE CATA) at the Extraordinary ASEAN-EU Senior Transport Officials Meeting held virtually on June 2. ASEAN and the EU will now submit the AE CATA for legal scrubbing in preparation for signature at a later date to be confirmed.
The AE CATA will bolster connectivity and economic development among the 37 member states of ASEAN and the EU. Under the agreement, airlines of ASEAN and the EU will have greater opportunities to operate passenger and cargo services between and beyond both regions. Airlines of ASEAN and the EU will be able to fly any number of services between both regions. In addition, airlines will be able to fly up to 14 weekly passenger services, and any number of cargo services via and beyond to any third country.
The Agreement will help rebuild air connectivity between ASEAN and Europe which has been decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic and open up new growth opportunities for the aviation industry in both regions. Both parties expressed the intent to maintain close discussions and coordination to minimize disruptions to air services caused by the pandemic.
The pace-setting Agreement reflects the latest policy thinking in air transport regulation, including robust fair competition provisions and doing business issues. More importantly, the AE CATA provides a foundation for closer cooperation between ASEAN and the EU in areas such as aviation safety, air traffic management, consumer protection, and environmental and social matters. This deeper cooperation builds upon existing initiatives such as the Enhanced ASEAN Regional Integration Support from the EU (ARISE Plus) programme on technical assistance and capacity building; the EU-South East Asia on Cooperation on Mitigating Climate Change impact from Civil Aviation: Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (EU-SEA CCCA CORSIA), which supports CORSIA implementation; and the EU-South East Asia Aviation Partnership Project (EU- SEA APP).
Dato Lim Jock Hoi, the Secretary-General of ASEAN, said “With $10.5 billion of Foreign Direct Investment inflows and $226.2 billion of trade in goods in 2020, the EU is already the third largest source of investment and the third largest trading partner for ASEAN. The AE CATA would significantly strengthen air connectivity between ASEAN and Europe and bring both regions even closer together. This would allow them to reap further economic benefits.”