DILI, 26 october 2023 (TATOLI) – Timor-Leste has signed the Air Service Agreement with several countries, but only two foreign passenger airlines currently operate to Timor-Leste – the Indonesian passenger airline “Citilink” which operates between Denpasar and Dili and the Australian Qantas Airways which flies between Darwin and Dili.
Timor-Leste has so far signed ASAs with a number of countries, including Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, New Zealand, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Indonesia, Australia, and the list goes on.
Timor-Leste is expected to sign ASAs with the Philippines and China in the very near future.
Minister of Transportation and Communications, Miguel Marques Gonçalves Manetelu said that the government is still in the negotiation process to materialize these agreements.
“We will continue to negotiate with those countries that have signed ASAs with Timor-Leste to implement these agreements,” said Manetelu.
In order for the government to sign these ASAs with these countries, parliamentary approval is required.
Many argue that in order for many foreign passenger airlines to fly to Timor-Leste, the country has to ensure enough passengers to board their commercial airlines.
In addition, a greater number of commercial flights means that the country also needs world-class airports to accommodate many commercial flights.
In may 2023, the Government, through the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MTC), signed a contractual agreement with the Indonesian state-owned enterprise, Waskita Karya, and Amythas, and Japanese Joint Ventures for the implementation of the Díli International Airport expansion project.
The Dili International Airport Expansion project will improve Timor-Leste’s connectivity and economic ties with ASEAN countries, and many other countries in the region which will improve trade and labor movement. It will help develop the country’s productive sector, such as tourism.
According to The Asia Foundation’s “2019 Survey of Travelers to Timor-Leste”, over 38,000 leisure travelers visited the country in 2019, spending more than US$23 million.
In Timor-Leste, tourism has been earmarked as a key area of development needed to enable the country’s oil-dependent economy to diversify.
Journalist: José Belarmino De Sá
Editor: Filomeno Martins