U.S. Celebrates 100 Open Skies Agreements

March 30, 2011
Airplane in Blue Sky

When you take an international flight from the United States, the odds are that you're flying to a destination covered by an Open Skies agreement. Today, Secretary Clinton and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood co-hosted a celebration of our Open Skies initiative, commemorating a milestone of Open Skies agreements negotiated with over 100 partners.

What is all of this about? Open Skies Air Transport agreements allow airlines, not governments, to decide which routes to fly, which cities to serve, what equipment to use, and how much to charge. In fostering competition, and removing barriers, Open Skies agreements have vastly expanded international passenger and cargo flights to and from the United States. They have helped promote a boom in international aviation, giving American cities, shippers, and passengers amplified access to destinations around the world, and spurring high-quality job opportunities and economic growth. Open Skies agreements are truly win-win for the United States and our partners.

The State Department's Office of Transportation Affairs in the Bureau of Economic, Energy and Business Affairs is the lead negotiator for the United States for all aviation agreements, including our Open Skies agreements. Reaching over 100 Open Skies partners is the product of nearly 20 years of hard work. It springs from an effective partnership between the State Department and the Department of Transportation (DOT), with invaluable assistance from the Department of Commerce. It is also the result of a unique partnership between the U.S. Government and industry and labor. Private sector stakeholders -- airlines, airports, industry associations, and labor unions -- are members of the U.S. aviation negotiating team, and their support has been crucial to the success of our Open Skies initiative.

We concluded our first Open Skies agreement in 1992 with the Netherlands. State and DOT were looking for a way to open up our international aviation relations -- after all, the United States had begun deregulation of its domestic aviation industry in 1978. We were stuck in a system of bilateral agreements that were often highly restrictive, seemingly designed to protect flag carriers rather than to promote growth.

Now, after nearly two decades, we have over 100 Open Skies partners around the world. We have struck deals with nearly all major economies -- the European Union, Japan, Canada, India, Korea, Nigeria, and Brazil to name a few. Our Open Skies agreements mean that Americans are better connected than ever before to cities and markets around the world. And we will continue to push Open Skies into new markets.

Stay connected with Assistant Secretary Fernandez on Facebook and Twitter.Related Content:Expanding the Benefits of Freer Commercial Aviation

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