Singapore

Air traffic growth benefits both countries

S'pore, Vietnam looking to enhance air links

Singapore and Vietnam will explore ways to strengthen air links between their countries and beyond, the outcome of which can benefit business on both sides, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.

Mr Lee and Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc had agreed that there was room to further grow passenger and cargo traffic.

Speaking to Singapore reporters at the end of his four-day official visit to Vietnam, Mr Lee also noted that the easing of travel and trade barriers had benefitted both countries.

Further measures in this direction will strengthen both economies, he said in the interview, during which he also touched on the Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Parks and the need for substantive regional trade pacts.

Mr Lee said he raised the issue of liberalising air services with Mr Phuc because the traffic volume is growing rapidly in tandem with closer bilateral ties.

"I made the pitch to him that we should enhance the air services agreement... because that will develop the traffic further and develop the business further. He was receptive, so we will talk to their officials.

"I hope we will make progress," he said.

About 400,000 Vietnamese travel to Singapore and 250,000 Singaporeans head to Vietnam annually, and flights between the two countries are often full.

Mr Lee added that flights beyond the two countries - known as fifth and sixth freedom flights - should also be looked at as part of the pact.

The two PMs asked their officials to work closely on regional forums such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, which Vietnam is chairing this year, and Asean, which Singapore will chair next year.

They agreed to promote Asean's solidarity, unity and centrality and build capacity for member nations to deal with security challenges.

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