Open skies deal for U.S., Canada

The U.S. and Canadian governments have signed an open skies agreement that is being heralded as a milestone in North American aviation.The agreement was reached in Washington, following discussions involving officials from the Canadian and U.S. Governments, as well as representatives of airlines and airports.

The Open Skies Agreement will take effect in September 2006 and will be subject to review three years after implementation. A number of airlines supports the September start date and subsequent review.

Statement from Air Canada on agreement

“We are pleased negotiations involving Canada and the U.S. on this important aviation agreement have resulted in such a successful conclusion,” said Robert Milton, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Air Canada’s parent company, ACE Aviation Holdings Inc.

“Air Canada has long advocated the further liberalization of our shared skies so that we can better link our expanded North American network to our growing international network. In fact, this revitalized agreement allows us to enhance and capitalize on our cooperative arrangements with our Star Alliance partners, particularly on the transatlantic and transpacific markets.”

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“I commend Canada’s Transport Minister Lapierre for his vision and his stewardship of this important agreement which will see tremendous benefits for consumers and airlines, as well as contribute to economies of both countries,” explains Milton.

“This new agreement with Canada’s largest trade and aviation partner will ensure the North American industry is in step with current international airline policies. It will create substantial benefits for consumers by generating more choice and will contribute to the long-term health and competitiveness of our North American industry.”

United reacts to open skies agreement

“This agreement will benefit our customers and cargo shippers who will have more choices and increased competitive service options, provide greater flexibility for airlines and will deliver economic benefit to consumers in the two countries,” says Michael Whitaker, vice president Alliances, International and Regulatory Affairs for United Airlines.

“A fully liberalised open-skies agreement between Canada and the U.S. will enable even further cooperation between the two carriers and our other Star Alliance members.”

WestJet reacts to new open skies treaty

“I think this is a good step forward for our industry and for consumers, though of course there is still much work to be done by both governments in order to ensure the Agreement is a success,” says CEO of Clive Beddoe from WestJet.

“For the new Open Skies deal to reach its full potential for consumers and industry alike, the US and Canadian governments must ensure that a level playing field is established for all carriers, for example by providing fair and adequate access to American airports and airport facilities. During the negotiations, both countries have agreed they are willing to tackle access problems.”

“Ensuring fair access is crucial to the ultimate success or failure of Open Skies. I certainly look forward to working with the Minister and the necessary government departments to do just that”, said Beddoe.

“This will provide an opportunity for all carriers to examine their route networks, and to develop and market new destinations for Canadian travelers,” said Sean Durfy, executive vice president for sales and marketing at WestJet.

“It will also provide the opportunity to examine new strategic alliances with other carriers.”
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