Canada-EU open skies: Ottawa should initiate talks

Given the apparent impasse in open skies negotiations between Europe and the United States, Canada should take the lead and stimulate Europe’s interest in a Canada-European Union agreement modelled on the European proposal to the U.S.. The recommendation comes from Pierre Jeanniot, former CEO of Air Canada and senior fellow at the Montreal Economic Institute, who was speaking today at the Global Air Transport Outlook Conference held in Montreal by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and Airports Council International (ACI).

Should Canada be successful in proposing an agreement with Europe, 25 bilateral air transport agreements would be replaced by a single agreement covering the entire European Common Market, giving Canada open skies access to 450 million people. For its part, the European Union would have achieved successful implementation of its Common Atlantic Air Market approach with a major North American partner.

Mr. Jeanniot believes the experience gained in a Canada-EU open skies agreement would be useful to all parties and, in time, could help overcome the reluctance expressed by Americans toward further trans-Atlantic liberalization.

“A large part of world aviation continues to operate under a bureaucratic system of intergovernmental agreements which pretend to know better than the market, and thus dictate which carriers are allowed to fly to what destination, how often and still, in some cases, at what tariffs. Canada should take the lead and try to influence the liberalization of air transport markets over the Atlantic in a more significant way,” commented Mr. Jeanniot.

Pierre Jeanniot was president and CEO of Air Canada from 1984 to 1990 and director general and CEO of the International Air Transport Association from 1993 to 2002.