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Asean transport ministers agree to strengthen transport cooperation

ASEAN member states signed five agreements at the close of the 23rd Asean Transport Ministers Meeting on Friday that will - among other things - help further liberalise air services in the region, improve the safety and efficiency of air travel and enable the seamless movement of passengers across borders.

One agreement signed was Protocol 3 on domestic code-share rights between points within any other Asean member states. It will mean that airlines can expand networks without having to deploy their own aircraft. Travellers will benefit from greater travel convenience such as through-check and baggage transfers on code-share flights.

The second agreement, the Protocol to Implement the Tenth Package of Commitments under the Asean Framework Agreement on Services, seeks to progressively reduce restrictions on trade in air transport ancillary services within Asean.

Meanwhile, to facilitate the development and growth of the aviation sector, the ministers signed the Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Flight Crew Licensing, which is a key safety initiative under the Asean Transport Strategic Plan 2016-2025.

The agreement will ease the validation or conversion of licences issued by one state to another's by reducing regulatory resources required and the costs for training organisations and simulator operators.

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The transport ministers of Asean and China also signed the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the authorities in charge of aircraft accident investigation of Asean member states and the Civil Aviation Administration of China on cooperation relating to aircraft accident and incident investigation.

The Singapore Ministry of Transport (MOT) said in a release: "The MOU will enable the sharing of investigation facilities and equipment and investigation expertise to support aircraft accident investigation, offering of investigation training slots to each other (and) sharing of safety information."

Finally, the Asean transport ministers also signed the Asean Framework Agreement on the Facilitation of Cross Border Transport of Passengers by Road Vehicles (CBTP), which will make it easier for buses and coaches from one Asean country to enter another Asean country. Within the CBTP agreement, each state will be allowed a quota of 500 non-scheduled buses that will have facilitated entry to or will be able to transit through other member states.

They also adopted six initiatives which are expected to help enhance cooperation among member states. To support the establishment of the Seamless Asean Sky, Asean transport ministers adopted the Asean Air Traffic Management Master Plan; this aims to facilitate the flow of aircraft across Asean in a more integrated and smoother manner. It is expected to boost airspace capacity, reduce delays, bring down operational costs for airlines as well as enhance air traffic management safety.

"To further improve the safety of air travel, Asean transport ministers have made a good start on the Asean Foreign Operator Safety Assessment (AFOSA) programme", the MOT said. The sharing and analysis of data from ramp inspections conducted on foreign aircraft among member states will help to establish a high level of safety in Asean.

The 24th Asean Transport Ministers Meeting will convene in Thailand in 2018.

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