Indonesia ’s airlines are developing infrastructure facilities and human resources and improving services and maintenance centres in order to prepare for the ASEAN Open Skies Policy, which is expected to take effect by 2015.

The national flag carrier Garuda will put a 154-strong fleet into operation by 2015, while expanding its network of destinations, especially those in Southeast Asia , to capture opportunities in the region’s 600 million people market .

According to Pujobroto, vice president in charge of Garuda’s communications, his firm h as plans to open new direct routes to several regional countries in the near future, including the Philippines and Brunei .

Apart from their fleet, Garuda also plans to build four new hangars in the next five years to compete with other stronger carriers in ASEAN, such as Singapore Airlines and Malaysia Airlines.

In the framework of implementing the ASEAN connectivity and integration programme, the Indonesian Government has committed to opening or expanding five international airports by 2015.

The ASEAN Open Skies Policy is expected to boost air connectivity in the region. It will help bring down barriers to trade and facilitate the travel of migrant labourers and tourists, thus contributing to the economic development of member countries.

ASEAN, which groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, has agreed to gradually implement the policy so that it can provide maximum liberty for regional airlines by 2020.-VNA