A Multilateral Statement of Policy Principles
regarding the Implementation of Bilateral Air Service Agreements
has been signed by seven states and the European Commission.
The signing took place at the conclusion of the
IATA-hosted second Agenda for Freedom Summit in Montebello,
The states that signed the document are Chile,
Malaysia, Panama, Singapore, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates
and the United States of America; and was endorsed by the European
Commission. In total they represent around 60% of global aviation.
“This is an historic achievement that will help set the
foundation for a financially sustainable global aviation industry.
I congratulate the seven governments and the European Commission
for their visionary leadership. One agreement will not change the
world. But this is a strong signal that this industry’s future
must be realized in a much more liberal environment,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
Roberto Kobeh Gonzalez, President of
the Council of ICAO who witnessed the signing, said,
“Greater economic freedom is a critical element for
aviation and I commend IATA’s Agenda for Freedom
initiative. The Statement of Policy Principles is
perfectly in line with ICAO’s vision for liberalization
as articulated at the fifth Worldwide Air Transport
Conference in 2003. While safeguarding safety, security
and environmental responsibility, governments and
industry must also find a platform for financial
sustainability in civil aviation.”
The 65 year-old bilateral system of
air service agreements places restrictions on how airlines can do
business in ways that no other industry faces. National ownership
requirements do not allow airlines to merge across borders,
precluding the development of global players that has been seen in
other previously regulated industries such as telecommunications.
Airlines are also restricted in market access, until government
negotiators conclude agreements to allow cross-border services.
The policy principles
address three main areas:
Freedom to access capital
markets: States agreed on principles that would open the
possibility for airlines to access global capital markets. This
would be achieved with an agreement not to exercise bilateral
rights that could allow them to block international services from
airlines with non-national ownership structures. States also
agreed to consider the possibility of a multilateral agreement to
waive ownership restrictions.
Freedom to do business: States
agreed on principles that seek to reduce restrictions on market
access and to expedite the further opening of markets in future
Freedom to price services: States
agreed on principles that would allow greater freedom to price
airline services in line with market realities.
policy principles are non-binding, they are an important statement
of common government intention among the most active countries
driving global aviation policy. The document notes specifically
that the signatories “recognize the importance of promoting
compatible regulatory approaches and reducing the potential for
conflicts” and the intention to use the policy principles to guide
“implementation of existing air service agreements and our
approach to the negotiation of new or amended air services
agreements in the future.”
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