Politique des transports : Toward a global liberalization of international aviation

Dans ce plaidoyer pour une libéralisation globale du transport aérien, Charles Hunnicutt passe en revue l'état actuel des accords "open-sky" entre les États-Unis et les principales régions du monde. L'Europe arrive en tête avec douze accords de ce type.

I would like to begin by noting that the principles that govern our international aviation policies govern our overall trade policy.

We believe strongly in free and fair trade, in creatingconditions for dynamic global competition, and in reducing and eliminating existing barriers to trade in goods and services.

We cannot reap the full benefits of free trade if we cannot transport people and goods freely.

Open skies as the global norm

We have vigorously sought to apply those principles to international aviation. International air service has long been regulated by governments primarily through bilateral agreements. It is unfortunate, but true, that many governments continue to use the bilateral system to protect their airlines from competition by imposing significant restrictionson airline operations. Those restrictions impose huge costs on consumers, communities, airlines.

We will continue our work to open aviation markets and to create new opportunities for air service. We remain committed to seeing open skies become the global norm, because this offers the greatest opportunity to respond to demand, and, therefore, to produce the full range of benefits to consumers that aviation is capable of providing.

We also recognize that we can move forward in a number of ways and that flexibility can be a virtue, especially in those situations when some nations are not able to completely open their aviation markets immediately.

Consequently, our approach to international aviation entails, and shall continue to entail, being pragmatic in our dealings with other countries, and working with them to develop approaches that address their immediate concerns and our immediate needs, provided that we move forward to liberalization.

A global network industry

We are open to new business methods so long as they achieve pro competitive aviation objectives.

Today, we are witnessing the growth of a truly global aviation market and the corresponding continuing development of a wide variety of airlines' initiatives for serving that market. We recognize that these initiatives include the initial integration of worldwide services through such cross-border arrangements — codes sharing, joint marketing arrangements and alliances involving a comprehensive integration of airline functions.

These cross-border arrangements are having a dramatic impact on the structure of the airline industry. They are transforming it into a global network industry, and providing the basis for truly global air transportation systems.

These new airline arrangements have already improved service and competition in practically thousands of markets that single airline systems could not reach. And the successes of these cross-border arrangements have reinforced the enormous benefits resulting from the elimination of restrictions on airline operations.

The result has been a more liberal aviation environment, more open markets and more opportunities for new air service. Yet, more needs to be done to create liberalized trade in aviation services, however, and we are now working with other nations to get that job done.

12 open-skies' agreements with Europe

We have made substantial and continuing progress eliminating restrictions on air service between the United States and Europe. Today, we have 12 open-skies' agreements with countries in that region, including Germany, and a phased open-sky's agreement with the Czech Republic.

We intend to build on the momentum created by this market opening agreements to encourage all countries in Europe to liberalize their aviation markets. To achieve that objective we plan to continue the dialogue we have already begun with France, the United Kingdom, and several countries in Central and Southern Europe.

We also continue our ongoing efforts to liberalize our aviation relations with countries in our own hemisphere, building on our strong social, cultural and economic ties with our Latin American neighbors and the success of our new aviation agreement with Canada.

We are now working on extending the benefits of aviation liberalization to other markets in our own hemisphere. In this connection, I would like to point out that several Central American countries have expressed interest in an open-skies approach, and we are now engaged in a dialogue with their representatives.

Asia as the main target

One of the principal trade objectives of this administration has been to improve economic ties with Asia, in recognition of Asia’s economic development and the growth of its markets. Consistent with that objective, we have devoted a considerable amount of time and attention to working with our Asian partners to build new air transportation links to and from the region and to improve those that we now have.

Our efforts are paying off. Over the last two years, seven nations in Asia have joined with the United States in liberalizing our aviation agreements.

These new relationships build on the strong relations that we already had with other countries in the region. Today we are taking a fresh look at opening up our Asian aviation relations even further — pressing forward with new open-skies' initiatives which only last week resulted in the initialing of the first in what we hope will be a series of open-skies' agreements in that critical region.

We have made great progress in a relatively short time because of the enormous benefits of liberalization, and because we have received widespread advice and support from distinguished members of the aviation industry. We have opened markets and created opportunities for new aviation services.

Publié dans la revue l'Année Europénne 1997, dans le dossier Politiques des transports