21 October 2022


On 17 October, the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) signed a comprehensive air transport agreement that will open up more air transport opportunities and enhance direct connectivity between the two regions, whilst upgrading rules and standards for concerned flights. The agreement, which applies immediately, sets global benchmarks that commit all 37 countries in the two regions to fair competition and to improving social and environmental conditions. The signing means new opportunities for consumers, airlines and airports both in Europe and in ASEAN countries.

This first ‘bloc-to-bloc' air transport agreement 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. Moreover, it brings about the following changes:

  • 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.

Both parties also recognised the importance of environmental and social matters, agreed to cooperate on them and to improve their respective social and labour laws and policies.

Source: European Commission – DG MOVE