New Open Skies for European Union, ASEAN
Airlines Industry

New Open Skies for European Union, ASEAN

DALLAS – The European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, have brought about a new “open skies” agreement that will bolster air connectivity and frequency between the two regions.

The move helps airlines from the two regions in their post-pandemic recovery and also caters to further expansion as the otherwise stiff rules from bilateral agreements have been lowered significantly.

The EU and ASEAN comprise 37 countries in total, and each one will now have a fair and equal chance at air competition—a new opportunity to look forward to for consumers, airlines, and airports both in Europe and in ASEAN countries.

Adina Vălean, Commissioner for Transport of the European Commission, stated, This first-ever ‘bloc-to-bloc’ air transport agreement brings the EU–ASEAN aviation partnership to a new level. It will support the aviation sector’s recovery after COVID-19 and restore much-needed connectivity to the benefit of some 1.1 billion people, enabling greater business, trade, tourism, and people-to-people exchanges.”

The agreement, which is effective immediately, replaces “more than 140 bilateral air services agreements, providing a single set of rules and reducing red tape,” according to Vălean, who added that it also gave the blocs “a new platform to work jointly towards our shared commitment to economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable aviation.”

Image: European Commission

Key Takeaways from the Agreement


  • It replaces more than 140 bilateral air services agreements, thereby providing a single set of rules and reducing red tape. EU Members States without any bilateral agreements with ASEAN States are now also covered by a modern legal framework.
  • All EU airlines will be able to operate direct flights from any airport in the EU to all airports in ASEAN States, and vice versa for ASEAN airlines. This will help EU and ASEAN airlines to compete with competitors targeting the lucrative EU-ASEAN market.
  • Airlines will be able to fly up to 14 weekly passenger services to or from each EU Member State, and any number of cargo services via and beyond the two regions, to any third country (‘fifth freedom traffic rights’).
  • The agreement includes modern and fair competition provisions to address market distortions.
Image: European Commission

From Air France (AF) to Thai Airways (TG) and many many more, this new framework is a big benefit to all the linked units that make up the airline industry of the two regions.

According to data from Diio by Cirium, as stated on Skift, Singapore Airlines (SQ) and Thai Airways (TG) flew the most passenger capacity between the two regions. KLM (KL) and Lufthansa (LH) are third and fourth, respectively.


Featured image: Fabrizio Spicuglia/Airways

Europe and Asia Correspondent
Commercial pilot | Flight Instructor | Aviation Journalist & writer.

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