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A Genuine Open Sky Still Remains a Distant Dream

01 April 2010
by eub2 -- last modified 01 April 2010

Responding to yesterday’s preliminary Second Stage Open Skies agreement between the US and the European Union, IACA and its members are frustrated and disappointed by the failure to agree a balanced deal for all airlines.


Despite 13 rounds in the first stage of negotiations, and a further eight rounds in the second stage, European airlines still remain significantly worse off.

The negotiations seem to have become an exercise in finding the right wording to bring an end to what has been a face-saving process in recent months. The wording "breakthrough" means that both delegations have found these words: they will "engage in a process towards reform", however without any deadline, nor commitment.

The fact remains that the European Union has been unsuccessful in negotiating equal traffic rights for EU and US airlines in each other's internal markets, through identical ownership and control possibilities. However, the removal of restrictions in investment possibilities for EU capital into US airlines will, in the end, be no more than a surrogate substitute for cabotage – i.e. the right for a European airline to fly between US points.  

Indeed, US airlines have access to the full internal EU market, whilst EU carriers are still restricted to flying transatlantic trunk routes.  Under the terms of the preliminary agreement reached yesterday, EU airlines will continue to be denied to the US internal domestic market.

Sylviane Lust, IACA Director General commented:

"Behind the face-saving rhetoric, the bare fact remains that this deal is completely one sided in favour of US airlines."

"The EU can gloss over the facts all they want, but yesterday's deal hasn't brought airlines any closer to a genuine open sky and provides no new opportunities for European carriers."

"IACA calls on both side to honour their commitments made at the start of the EU-US aviation talks in 2003. After all those years of trumpeting minor breakthroughs, it is really time to achieve a genuine open sky, with equal opportunities for both sides."

The International Air Carrier Association (IACA) represents 33 airlines serving the leisure industry. IACA members operate over 800 state-of-the-art, environmentally efficient aircraft and directly employ more than 50,000 people. Each year IACA airlines transport over 100 million passengers to 650 holiday destinations worldwide.

International Air Carrier Association (IACA)