In a new development for aviation between North and Southeast Asia, South Korea announced new open-skies agreements with both Singapore and Brunei.
With two separate announcements, the South Korean Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MOLIT) announced the new agreement with Singapore (November 23) followed by Brunei the following day (November 24). The signing of the agreements took place as leaders from ASEAN-member states arrived in Busan, South Korea for the ASEAN-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit.
For the South Korea-Singapore market, both countries will remove non-stop flight frequency restrictions enabling flights between Singapore to any city in South Korea. Both countries also expanded Fifth-Freedom rights to a third country.
At present, there are non-stop flights between Seoul-Incheon and Busan to Singapore, with flights to Busan starting this past summer following an agreement in 2018. Among the key players serving the market Korean Air, Asiana, Singapore Airlines/SilkAir, and budget carrier Jeju Air which operates flights on the Busan-Singapore route. In addition to the non-stop services, Singapore's budget subsidiary Scoot operates Singapore-Taipei-Seoul flights.
Following the open-skies agreement announcement with Singapore, the agreement with Brunei will have both countries drop flight frequency, aircraft type, and city restrictions for airlines serving the market.
Both countries also agreed to permit up to four weekly fifth freedom flights with a stop in another country, with the South Korean MOLIT announcement citing routes such as Brunei-China-South Korea and Brunei-South Korea-United States covered in the agreement.
At present, Royal Brunei Airlines is the only airline serving the South Korea-Brunei market with a four-times weekly flight between Seoul-Incheon and Bandar Seri Begawan.
With the new agreements with Singapore and Brunei, South Korea will have open-skies agreements with 9 of the 10 ASEAN-member states with Indonesia being the exception.