What Is an Open Sky Agreement

An open sky agreement, also known as an open skies agreement, is a bilateral agreement between two or more countries that allows unrestricted air travel between them. This agreement allows airlines from both parties to operate flights freely between their respective countries without any restrictions on routes, capacity, pricing, or the number of flights.

The purpose of an open sky agreement is to promote competition in the market, increase airline traffic, and reduce fares for passengers. The agreement removes government intervention in airline operations, allowing airlines to operate like any other business. The agreement also creates new routes and increases the frequency of flights, which can contribute to economic growth by promoting tourism and business activities between countries.

Open sky agreements typically cover a wide range of issues, including ownership rules, safety standards, environmental regulations, and consumer protection. The agreement also includes provisions for sharing airport services, such as ground handling and fuel supply, to ensure fair competition between airlines.

The first open sky agreement was signed between the United States and the Netherlands in 1992. Since then, more than 100 open sky agreements have been signed between various countries, including the United States, Europe, Asia, and Africa.

However, some critics argue that open sky agreements can lead to the concentration of airlines within specific markets, resulting in decreased competition and higher fares. Additionally, open sky agreements can put pressure on smaller airlines to compete against larger airlines with greater resources.

Overall, an open sky agreement can have significant benefits for airline passengers, airlines, and the countries involved. However, it is crucial to strike a balance between promoting competition and ensuring fair competition for all airlines operating within the market.