Cheaper Travels within ASEAN Region soon? Here’s why.

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Cheaper travels within ASEAN soon_

When it comes to travelling, Malaysians have been extra cautious as of late because of the fluctuating ringgit and the current economic condition. But here’s some good news for Malaysians who enjoy travelling – travels within the ASEAN region will be cheaper soon! Read on to learn why.

What Is The ASEAN Single Aviation Market?

The ASEAN Single Aviation Market, which is also known as the ASEAN open skies policy is an agreement that will be within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) country members. The main purpose of the policy is for ASEAN countries to have a single aviation market, which will in turn also provide greater air connectivity for both business and leisure travel for ASEAN region citizens.

The list of ASEAN member countries are:

  • Indonesia
  • Malaysia
  • Philippines
  • Singapore
  • Thailand
  • Brunei
  • Vietnam
  • Laos
  • Myanmar
  • Cambodia

Director of IDEAS, Ali Salman said that air transport for economic development continues to be one of the 12 priority areas in the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). As such, liberalising the transport links will be crucial to eliminate barriers of connectivity and trade within the ASEAN region. The policy will also likely free up tourism, trade, investment, and also improve the service flows between ASEAN member countries.

As a background, the Intra-ASEAN total trade itself reached USD 543.75 billion (RM 2263.33 billion) in 2016. This proves that ASEAN has significant potential to benefit from the planned policy especially when it comes to trading of goods between the ASEAN member countries.

How Will It Benefit Malaysians?

“Full implementation of the policy would translate to lower air fares, airline industry growth, and more jobs. Realising this and committing towards the building of the ASEAN Community Carrier in the near future will be a game-changer for the region” – Ali Salman, Director of Research IDEAS

Upon implementation, the policy will benefit the ASEAN countries and also its citizens. The main benefit for ASEAN citizens would be that individual travellers can look forward to enjoying cheaper airfares and also having more airline to choose from when travelling within ASEAN countries as a result of the policy implementation. Aside from the cheaper flight tickets, Malaysians can also benefit from the better safety and security standards. Malaysian consumers will also have more route options as airlines may offer new routes to key destinations, providing more travel options.

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However, the ASEAN Single Aviation Market is still in the works, and in a recent report Tony Fernandez, AirAsia Group chief officer was reported stating that the implementation remains slow. Veelayudan Krishnan Nair, Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd’s research and planning general manager also said that the implementation should have been expedited.

I personally hope decision makers from the ASEAN countries can commit to this agreement so that it can be put in place soon. Malaysians, and not to mention citizens from other ASEAN countries could really use better priced flight tickets, and also more airlines and routes to choose from to make travelling more viable especially during the still challenging economic climate.

After deadline for implementation passed in January 2016, three ASEAN member which are Philippines, Indonesia and Laos have been reluctant to agree to agreement. As a result, no agreement has been signed yet to date. Currently, Indonesia  is opposing opening up its secondary cities, while Philippines has excluded Manila from the agreement and Laos has not yet freed up Luang Prabang and its national capital Vientiane for the ASEAN Single Aviation Market. The plan was for all carriers from ASEAN to enjoy unlimited third, fourth and fifth freedom operations within the region.

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The last update was a recent meeting in October, the 23RD ASEAN transport ministers which took place in Singapore, however there are no updates yet of the outcome from the meeting. As of now, there is no information as to the overall progress. We hope that clear steps and a timeline will be put in place soon between the transport ministers of the ASEAN countries in order to expedite the implementation, and also be made transparent so citizens can be kept in the loop.

Expediting it will also be good for both Malaysians and the country itself, as it can help to boost the country’s economy. Travel and tourism contributed RM167.5 billion in 2016. Furthermore, 76% of tourist to Malaysia in 2016 were from ASEAN countries, meaning that ASEAN tourism contributes greatly to Malaysia’s economy.

Ali Salman has said that the reason to the slow implementation of ASEAN Single Aviation Market is because of harmonisation regulations between the region and lack of national supportive policies. We will update this article when there are new developments for the ASEAN Single Market Aviation, so stay tuned.

See also: Travel on A Budget to These 7 Asian Destinations

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Fara Joifin

About Fara Joifin

Fara is a Senior Content Writer at CompareHero.my. She gets excited when she scores a good deal and has an obsession with the Northern Lights.