Timor-Leste to Explore New Airline under USTDA Grant

Arlington, VA – Today, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency announced grant funding for a feasibility study to develop a new airline that will service Timor-Leste’s Oé-Cusse Ambeno exclave. The project will link non-contiguous regions of Timor-Leste through aviation, while enhancing the country’s connection to destinations across Southeast Asia and around the world. New York-based Alton Aviation Consultancy will carry out the study for USTDA’s grantee, the Special Administrative Region of Oé-Cusse Ambeno.

“Airlines are a crucial link for connecting people and markets and enhancing economic growth, especially in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands,” said Enoh T. Ebong, USTDA’s Director. “Our partnership with Timor-Leste will support the development of one of its most important infrastructure priorities in a sector where U.S. companies have so much to offer in terms of expertise and technology.”

The Special Administrative Region of Oé-Cusse Ambeno is a 315 square mile coastal exclave in the western part of the island of Timor. Its international airport has one daily flight to and from Dili, Timor-Leste’s capital city, that accommodates fewer than 20 travelers. Countrywide, the total number of international routes operating from Timor-Leste remains in the single digits, making it one of the least connected markets in Southeast Asia.

The objective of USTDA’s study is to determine the feasibility of establishing a new airline that will enhance passenger and cargo traffic for Oé-Cusse Ambeno and Timor-Leste. The study will develop a detailed business case for the new airline, and review Timor-Leste’s current and potential commercial aviation market. It will also evaluate options for business ownership of the airline, operational models, network strategy and a fleet strategy. The business case will include a financial model output based on two prioritized business ownership structures.

Arsénio Paixão Bano, President of the Special Administrative Region of Oé-Cusse Ambeno, said: “The Special Administrative Region of Oé-Cusse Ambeno was created to promote inclusive development for its people. This goal is enhanced through a national program called the Special Zones of Social Market Economy of Timor-Leste, which provides us special legal provisions to advance socio-economic activities that promote the quality of life and well-being of our community. This includes aviation. Air connectivity to regional markets and around Timor-Leste is simultaneously a requirement and an opportunity for the Special Zone in Oé-Cusse. Our partnership with USTDA is so valuable because it will help make this priority a reality.”

Thomas E. Daley, Charge d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Timor-Leste, said: “This project represents the U.S. commitment to strengthening our enduring partnership with Timor-Leste as we work together to advance a more stable, connected, and prosperous region. We look forward to the successful completion of this project and to more flight connections from Oé-Cusse in the very near future.”

This feasibility study is part of USTDA’s programming under the U.S.-Southeast Asia and Pacific Aviation Cooperation Program, which works with aviation stakeholders in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands to design programs that promote technical, policy and commercial cooperation in civil aviation. ACP is industry led and government supported with cooperation from five U.S. government agencies and more than 40 U.S. industry partners.


The U.S. Trade and Development Agency helps companies create U.S. jobs through the export of U.S. goods and services for priority infrastructure projects in emerging economies.  USTDA links U.S. businesses to export opportunities by funding project preparation and partnership building activities that develop sustainable infrastructure and foster economic growth in partner countries.

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