Canada, USA to discuss 'open skies' agreement
November 8, 2005
The Canadian and U.S. airline industries will sit down for "open skies" talks in Washington this week.
The formal negotiations will run from Tuesday to Thursday.
While the skies are already relatively open, there are still some restrictions on competition.
One restriction that isn't up for discussion is the notion of "cabotage," or flying a domestic route in the other partner's territory.
As an example, a U.S. carrier like United Airlines can't compete against Westjet or Air Canada on domestic Canadian routes.
John McNabb is Canada's chief air negotiator, but other players like passenger and cargo airline operators and airports are involved.
It's the latest step in a working relationship that began in 1995 when the Canada-U.S. Air Transport Agreement was formed.
The groundbreaking, comprehensive agreement set out a framework for issues like prices airlines can charge for services and the number of flights airlines can run. It also governed how each partner could collect passengers in the other's territory.
The agreement benefited both airlines and passengers. Air traffic grew each of the next five years by an average of 7.3 per cent, and more than 100 new routes were added.
For passengers it provided more services, more options, new efficiencies and lower prices.
There are still some outstanding issues which are expected to be addressed in the upcoming round of talks. Those include security concerns, U.S. border inspectors in Canadian airports, and access for Canadian planes at large, busy U.S. airports.
In February, Minister of Transportation Jean Lapierre and U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta met in Ottawa and signaled their intention to build on the 1995 agreement.
Since then, Transport Canada has been conducting dialogues with stakeholders and collecting research on the issue to prepare for the talks.
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