transport ministers have agreed to deregulate air travel between the EU and Canada under the “Open Skies” pact.
The agreement will allow EU carriers to fly freely from any member state to and from Canada, where carriers will have reciprocal rights. It follows a similar EU agreement with the US which came into effect in March 2008.
The pact, which will be signed at a summit in May, will also lower the barriers to foreign investment in Canadian airlines. At present foreign ownership is capped at 25 percent but will be raised to 49 percent.
According to the European Commission, the Canadian Open Skies agreement could lead to the creation of 1,000 aviation jobs in its first year, while raising passenger traffic by nearly 40 per cent.
The Open Skies agreement came as transport ministers also gave their approval to a separate initiative to harmonise air traffic control and flight routes between member states.
“We will straighten out the routes, cutting down on the time as well as fuel use and emissions,” said Petr Bendl, transport minister of the Czech Republic.
The EU is opening international airline markets after its high court struck down aviation agreements between individual European nations and other countries. The European Court of Justice said in 2002 that the nationality-based route restrictions in these accords violated rules making the EU a single market.
Since the Open Skies accord between the US and Europe, airlines worldwide have slashed routes. BA in particular has shelved a number of planned Open Skies routes and grounded plans originally scheduled to operate on them.