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Malaysia Air Traffic Rights Expansion Put on Hold

'Technical Reasons' Blamed for Delay of Expanded Fifth Freedom Rights Between Indonesia & Malaysia. Is this the Latest Salvo in 'Tit for Tat' Between Malaysia and Indonesia?


Bali News: Malaysia Air Traffic Rights Expansion Put on Hold
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(9/14/2009)

Citing its current inability to fully utilize negotiated fifth freedom traffic rights with Malaysia, Indonesia is temporarily delaying a bi-lateral agreement with Malaysia that would have allowed both countries the reciprocal right to carry revenue traffic (cargo and passengers) to onward destinations as part of services connecting the airline's own country. Fifth freedoms provide participating countries the right to carry passengers between their respective countries and on to a third country.

It remains unclear if the sudden decision to delay the formal signing of the fifth freedom agreement is somehow connected to the worsening diplomatic relations between Malaysia and Indonesia over the perceived arrogation of Indonesian cultural icons by Malaysia. Quoted by Bisnis Indonesia, the Director General of Civil Aviation, Herry S.Bakti S. Gumay said the postponement of the memorandum scheduled for August 2009 was due to "technical reasons" and was awaiting final approval from the Minister of Transportation. Saying the decision to go ahead with the planned agreement is outside his authority and rests entirely with the Minister, Herry was not prepared to commit that the planned agreement would be completed in 2009.

Bilateral talks between Indonesia and Malaysia held in Malaysia June 9-10, 2009, worked out the details of a fifth freedom agreement between the two countries that were scheduled to be formalized in Jakarta in August 2009.

Malaysian Fifth Freedom Rights

The delayed agreement granted Malaysia:

• Fifth freedom right for Malaysian aircraft to fly 7 times each week to Jakarta, Makassar, Balikpapan and Denpasar (Bali) and for 14 Malaysian flights to continue each week to cities in Australia.

Indonesian Fifth Freedom Rights

The agreement with Malaysia afforded the following flight freedoms to Indonesia:

• Fifth freedom rights through Kuala Lumpur, Kinabalu and Kuching to carry passengers beyond those cities to third country destinations in Asia (except Tokyo) to a maximum of 36 flights each week.

• Fifth freedom rights via Kuala Lumpur, Kinabalu and Kuching to all destinations in Europe 14 times each week.

• Fifth freedom rights via Kuala Lumpur, Kinabalu and Kuching to all destinations in the Middle East 21 times each week.

• Fifth freedom rights via Kuala Lumpur, Kinabalu and Kuching to various destinations in the U.S.A. 14 times each week.

In addition to the listed fifth freedom flight rights, the delayed agreement also provided for additional seat capacity for Malaysian airlines in their flight services to Jakarta, Surabaya and Denpasar (Bali).

Adding another layer on mystery and intrigue to the decision to delay the bi-lateral flight agreement, the Secretary General of the Indonesia National Air Carriers Association (INACA), Tengku Burhanuddin, welcomed the decision to delay the agreement, saying, "the postponement is very wise in the current situation." He also expressed doubts as to whether the proposed agreement would benefit Indonesian carriers given the number of airlines flying from Indonesian to Malaysia.

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