The EU has reached an agreement with The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean ) with the objective of further improving direct connectivity between the two regions.

Effective immediately, the air transport agreement will also upgrade rules and standards for concerned flights.

It comes after six years of negotiations and is expected to result in the creation of more air transport opportunities as well as economic benefits for both sides.

The accord will replace more than 140 bilateral air services agreements, enabling all EU airlines to operate direct flights from any airport in the bloc to all airports in the ASEAN States and vice versa for ASEAN airlines.

Under the agreement, airline companies can operate up to 14 weekly passenger services to or from each EU Member State and an unlimited number of cargo services via and beyond the two regions.

It also includes modern and fair competition provisions to address market distortions.

European Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean said: “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.

“It replaces more than 140 bilateral air services agreements, providing a single set of rules and reducing red tape. It also gives us a new platform to work jointly towards our shared commitment to economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable aviation.”