Open Skies Issue Brief_______________________________

Author: Tom Zoeller, (703) 824-0504


What’s at Issue?

 "Open Skies" is an international treaty that permits unrestricted service by the airlines of both countries between and beyond the other’s territory. Studies have shown that multinational alliances are providing improved and more competitive services in thousands of markets.


Why it’s Important

 US airports have lobbied hard for an "open skies" bilateral regime.  “Open skies” agreements set liberal ground rules for international aviation markets and minimize government intervention.  Provisions apply to passenger, all-cargo and combination air transportation and encompass both scheduled and charter services.  “Open skies” agreements spur competition, which in turn means more air service, better business opportunities and more jobs. 


Major Provisions

      ·       Open entry on all routes

·       Unrestricted capacity and frequency on all routes

·       The right to operate between any point in the United States and any point in the corresponding country without restriction, including service to intermediate and beyond points, and the right to transfer passengers to smaller aircraft

·       Flexibility in setting fares

·       Liberal charter and cargo arrangements

·       Right of carriers to convert earnings into hard currency and return those earnings to their home country without restriction

·       Open code-sharing opportunities

·       Right of carriers to perform its own ground handling in the foreign country

·       Right of carriers to freely enter into commercial transactions related to their flight operations

·       Commitment to nondiscriminatory operation of and access to computer reservation systems


AAAE Position

 "Open Skies" Bilateral Aviation Agreements invigorates the marketplace, creates more competition and more capacity; all of which has a positive impact on our airports.



The United States currently has 56 "Open Skies" agreements.  On June 25, 2003, the United States announced that it had agreed with the European Union to begin comprehensive air service negotiations in the early autumn of 2003.  Currently, air service between the United States and European Union Member states are conducted under bilateral aviation agreements.  A comprehensive U.S.-E.U. aviation agreement would further liberalize international aviation markets. 


Related Links:

Airport Magazine: "Open Skies Agreements Bringing Global Dollars Home":


DOT Office of Aviation & International Affairs:


U.S. State Department, Open Skies Agreements Fact Sheet: