The experts said it was time to move beyond the bilateral system regulating air services towards a genuine multilateral liberalization of air transport. “Such an environment will facilitate the globalization of air transport markets, to match the globalization of other sectors of the economy.”
The ICC Air Transport Commission cited as promising current moves the multilateral “Open Skies” agreement between five members of the Asia Pacific Economic Council (APEC) and the Transatlantic Common Aviation Area (TCAA) proposed by the Association of European Airlines (AEA). The APEC initiative involves the United States, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei and Chile.
The statement also noted as a further encouraging development, the possible inclusion of air transport liberalization as part of the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas, which has a 2005 deadline for agreement.
Both the APEC and the EU-US initiatives advocate liberalization on an incremental and regional basis, ICC said. “Over time, one or more of these initiatives could evolve into a more widespread multilateral arrangement.”
The ICC statement has been sent to governments, air transport regulators and relevant international organizations.
Experts representing airlines, passengers, freight forwarders, airports and shippers drew up the business statement. It said: “The proposed TCAA is predicated on a constructive evolving dialogue between the EU, the US and other governments as a basis for developing the framework for a comprehensive agreement, which would then be open to participation from other countries.
“The APEC initiative is similarly premised on negotiating a comprehensive agreement among a small number of like-minded countries, which would then be open for accession by other countries in the region and around the world.”
The world business organization reiterated its calls for an easing of limitations on foreign ownership of airlines. “ICC also recommends that air transport developments be determined by economic and technical considerations and not by questions of national pride and national ownership. Change will be considerably accelerated if industry pushes for the necessary advances to be made.”