The door to global air transport liberalisation should be opened gradually starting from now, according to the International Civil Aviation Organisation. In a two-day preliminary meeting last week at its Montreal, Canada, headquarters to assess a framework for liberalising air transport, member states gave overwhelming backing to the concept of dropping airline ownership and control requirements as conditions for market access. It recommended particularly accelerating the liberalisation of air cargo operations.

"This was a truly remarkable conference," says ICAO president Dr Assad Kotaite. "ICAO contracting states now have a clear direction and practical guidance for liberalising their air transport industry." The conference recommended that "on the crucial question of air carrier ownership and control...air carrier designation and authorisation for market access should be liberalised at each state's pace and discretion, and states may take positive approaches to accept designated foreign carriers that might not meet traditional ownership and control criteria or the criteria of principal place of business and regulatory control."

ICAO reports that the meeting gave widespread backing to draft templates for "guidance and optional use by states when developing international air service agreements". The organisation has drafted two basic templates, one for bilateral agreements and the other for regional or multilateral agreements, ICAO explains. The organisation's recommendations are that a state designating an airline for service on a route does so on the basis that its "principal place of business" is in its territory and it maintains "effective regulatory control" of the carrier.

Source: Flight International