The Open Skies policy, also known as the ASEAN Single Aviation Market (ASEAN-SAM), aims to increase regional and domestic connectivity, integrate production networks and enhance regional trade
Indonesia and Laos have ratified the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Open Sky Policy. The move brings to ten the number of bloc signatories to the treaty which include Myanmar, Thailand, the Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Singapore.
The Open Skies policy, also known as the ASEAN Single Aviation Market (ASEAN-SAM), aims to increase regional and domestic connectivity, integrate production networks and enhance regional trade by allowing airlines from all ten ASEAN member states to fly freely throughout the region via the liberalization of air services under a single, unified air transport market.
But despite its name, the Open Skies policy will not be a true Open Skies agreement as in the European context. Although bloc capital cities will be opened up to member carriers, certain countries have restricted access to their markets as a whole citing congestion and competition concerns.
Indonesia, for example, has limited access to five designated airports – Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta (Jakarta), Medan Kuala Namu (North Sumatra), Surabaya (East Java), Denpasar (Bali), and Makassar (South Sulawesi) – while Laos has chosen to curb Thai carriers’ access to Vientiane and Luang Prabang. The Philippines, too, has opened up all cities except Manila to fellow regional carriers on the grounds that the capital’s airport is not capable of handling a surge in demand.
In addition, while restrictions on 3rd, 4th, and 5th freedom traffic rights between member states has been resolved, the issue of 7th freedom traffic rights (the right to carry passengers or cargo between two foreign countries without any continuing service to one’s own country) has yet to be tackled.
Despite these restrictions, ASEAN expects the more liberalized market environment to foster regional trade and integration. In addition, with its own treaty now in place, the bloc says it will now be in a position to conclude more advantageous aviation agreements with Dialogue Partners which include the European Union, the United States, India, China, Japan, and Russia among others.