An informal coalition of groups representing the business, tourism and airports sectors today joined together in a united call on the federal government to seek an Open Skies agreement with Europe when it meets with European negotiators in Brussels starting today.
“This agreement has tremendous potential for the Canadian economy,” said Canadian Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Perrin Beatty.
“Building on the strengths of our transportation system by strategically implementing Canada’s Blue Sky international air policy, greatly benefits both Canadian companies and Canadians.”
“Giving travellers more options for getting to Canada will improve our competitiveness as a destination in an increasingly global tourism marketplace,” according to TIAC President and CEO Randy Williams. “An Open Skies agreement with the EU, Canada’s second largest tourism market, makes good economic sense.”
“Canada’s airports are gateways to the communities they serve and see tremendous potential for increased trade and tourism from an Open Skies regime,” said Canadian Airports Council President and CEO Jim Facette.
At issue is a new air services agreement regulating commercial air traffic between the European Union and Canada. An Open Skies regime between Canada and the EU would replace individual bilateral agreements between Canada and 17 individual members of the 27-member EU, which is Canada’s second biggest trading partner and source of tourists.
An Open Skies agreement would allow any Canadian or European carrier to operate between any points in the two markets. It would not allow domestic service by a foreign carrier (known as cabotage) but would eliminate restrictions on capacity, frequency and pricing.
According to a study launched by the European Commission, the number of passengers between the EU and Canada would increase from eight million now to 14 million by 2011. In addition, the EC estimates that an Open Aviation Area would generate consumer benefits of at least $110 million through lower fares and could create 3,700 jobs in the first year.