Laos and Indonesia Reach Air Transport Deal

Lao Airlines Airbus A320

Laos and Indonesia expect to kick off direct flights between Vientiane and Jakarta at the end of next year, aiming to boost tourism and economic cooperation. The two governments reached an agreement on bilateral aviation cooperation last week, giving the green light
for airlines of the two nations to launch direct flights between their capital cities.“The agreement will create many benefits for both
countries, especially in the economic and tourism sectors,” air transportation director Djoko Murjatmodjo of Indonesia’s Transportation Ministry said after signing the agreement, as quoted in the Jakarta Post on Friday.

“A direct flight between Jakarta and Vientiane will bring the people of Indonesia and Laos closer together, strengthening the friendship between the two Asean countries.” The Indonesian official said Laos and Indonesia expect to launch the direct flight at the end of 2013, two years ahead of the Asean Economic Community coming into being in 2015. He said Asean is currently enjoying strong economic growth and this is the perfect time to connect one city in the region to another. While Laos and Indonesia have good diplomatic relations,
tourism and economic cooperation between the two nations is at a low level compared to the links between other Asean countries.

Analysis shows there is considerable potential for Laos and Indonesia to operate a direct flight because the nations are home to the popular tourist destinations of Bali and Luang Prabang. International tourists today want to visit many countries in the region.Tour operators are preparing to sell package tours that include visits to several countries in the region as travel between Asean nations gets easier. Asean plans to introduce a single visa for the citizens of member countries, but it is still unclear when this might occur.

Lao officials said the government plans to establish air links with many Asean cities as part of efforts to improve connectivity within the region. Laos also wants to end reliance on Thailand as a gateway for tourists and business-people coming to Laos. National carrier Lao
Airlines operates a direct flight to Singapore, another regional air transport hub, which targets passengers transiting in Singapore on their way to Laos. The airline also plans to open a direct flight to the Republic of Korea and cities in China at the end of this year.
The Thai airline Bangkok Airways plans to launch a Bangkok-Vientiane flight next month, based on the growing demand for this sector. Myanmar also plans to launch a direct flight between Vientiane and Yangon in the near future.

Vientiane Times,
9 October, 2012

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