Jim Bagnall/OTTAWA Ramon Lopez/WASHINGTON DC

CANADIAN TRANSPORT Minister Douglas Young has moved forward liberalisation in two areas of Canadian international air-services agreements (ASAs): an accord with the USA, and those with other nations.

The US/Canada deal is a framework agreement for a new ASA, on which talks will resume this month. This would remove most constraints on all-cargo services and phase in the lifting of restrictions on US airline flights to major Canadian cities.

The US/Canada bilateral agreement has remained substantially unchanged for two decades, and nearly two-thirds of the 100 largest US cities are without non-stop service to Canada.

The agreement recommends immediate removal of restrictions on USA-Canada passenger services, except for new US-carrier access to Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. On those routes restrictions would be phased out over three years, so that Canadian carriers can adjust to the competition. Code sharing would be permitted.

On the international front, Young has invited all Canadian carriers to bid for overseas routes now "under-served" by either of the two major carriers, Air Canada or Canadian Airlines International. Foreign carriers will also be invited to bid.

Young has published a list of 37 countries, which now have poor direct air links with Canada despite the existence of ASAs. These include Belgium, the Netherlands, Singapore and Spain.

Source: Flight International