According to a recent study by the Pacific Asia Travel Association, as the ASEAN nations have begun to "liberate" and deregulate its airline industry (aka create competition), it has seen increases in route capacities and passenger numbers, and consequently leaps in airline revenue and job numbers.
That same study compared ASEAN's continued path of airline deregulation (which really began to pick up steam in 2004) to that of the U.S. and Europe. The bottom line is that free competition in the skies has done wonders for the latter two, offering insight into the amount of growth that could be gained in the next few years for Southeast Asia.
There are doubts that complete ASEAN deregulation will be completed by the original goal of 2015, but the movement is great news for all parties involved, and we love its potential impact of enticing more travelers from the U.S. The more routes between countries via low-cost carriers, such as Air Asia, the more attractive and doable a trip to the other side of the world becomes, especially for those on the west coast who can often find trans-pacific flights for about what they would pay to go to Europe. We'll be sure to keep an eye on things and keep you updated as plans become reality.