New Zealand-ASEAN Agreement To Enhance Connectivity

asean New Zealand meeting

Attendees of the fourth meeting of the New Zealand-ASEAN working group.

Credit: ASEAN

Connectivity between New Zealand and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)—the union of 10 member states that includes Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand—has received a boost following the conclusion of a new air services agreement (ASA).

There are just 37 nonstop weekly flights between New Zealand and the ASEAN nations at present, analysis of OAG Schedules Analyser data shows, as well as 13 one-stop weekly flights via airports in Australia.

Under the terms of the new agreement, airlines will have unlimited 3rd- and 4th-freedom traffic rights. Designated carriers will also be able to fly up to seven services per week with 5th-freedom rights, in addition to existing bilateral entitlements between each individual state and New Zealand. This will apply during the first year the ASA comes into force, with up to 14X-weekly frequencies permitted after the first year.

The ASEAN member states comprise Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, which together represent a market with a GDP of more than $3.6 trillion and a population of over 660 million.

According to OAG, the markets between New Zealand and Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam are all unserved at present.

The existing nonstop service sees Auckland International Airport (AKL) connected with Denpasar-Bali, Indonesia, three times per week by Air New Zealand, while Malaysia Airlines provides the only direct Malaysia-New Zealand link with an 8X-weekly Kuala Lumpur (KUL)-AKL service.

Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines (SIA) each connect AKL and Singapore (SIN) 12X-weekly and 7X-weekly, respectively, and SIA also serves Christchurch-SIN daily. Two Malaysia-New Zealand one-stop routes are also offered, with AirAsia X linking AKL and KUL daily via Sydney, and Batik Air Malaysia connecting the same cities six times per week via Perth.

“The ASEAN-New Zealand Air Services Agreement is a forward-looking agreement that will enhance air connectivity between ASEAN and New Zealand and facilitate greater ease of movement of people and goods, and contribute to the sustainable socio-economic development,” says Cambodia’s Minister in Charge of State Secretariat of Civil Aviation Mao Havannall.

Analysis of Sabre Market Intelligence data shows that O&D traffic between New Zealand and the 10 ASEAN members totaled about 303,000 two-way passengers during 2022, compared with 1.1 million in 2019 before the pandemic. Just 19% of passenger itineraries last year were nonstop.

The figures for 2022 show that New Zealand-Singapore attracted the largest flow of O&D traffic, with around 106,000 two-way passengers, followed by New Zealand-Philippines with 64,000 and New Zealand-Indonesia with 40,200.

Conclusion of the New Zealand-ASEAN ASA comes four years after the first round of talks. It will now be submitted for legal scrubbing in preparation for it to be signed by the parties involved. 

David Casey

David Casey is Editor in Chief of Routes, the global route development community's trusted source for news and information.