The authorities have taken another step towards ensuring the smooth transition of aviation travel after the handover, with the signing of an air services agreement between the territory and Japan. Yesterday's accord was the culmination of eight years of negotiations. It was endorsed by the Sino-British Joint Liaison Group in December last year after initially being concluded and initialled in December 1995. The Government's head negotiator in the area, Mike Arnold, said the deal meant air traffic arrangements between the two regions had been finalised. Details of the new arrangements were not released, but are modelled closely on British arrangements negotiated in 1986 under the Hong Kong-Japan air services agreement.