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Progress on EU Open Skies Spells Promise for Canada

May 16, 2008, Ottawa /CNW Telbec/ - The Canadian Airports Council applauded efforts achieved in reaching a new comprehensive air services agreement with the EU, as both federal government and European Union officials today indicate progress.


May 16, 2008
By Carey Fredericks

May 16, 2008, Ottawa /CNW Telbec/ – The Canadian Airports Council applauded efforts achieved in reaching a new comprehensive air services agreement with the EU, as both federal government and European Union officials today indicate progress.
           
"We're negotiating a comprehensive air services agreement with the EU.
We're moving from a series of 19 bilaterals covering individual countries to a single air services bilateral with the European Union," said International
Trade Minister David Emerson in a speech at a conference in Ottawa. "That will result in increased and better air services. And if you're managing a global value chain you better have very good and frequent air services or you will not be competitively successful. So that's a very important piece. And it will be a building block for our success in global value chains."
           
Minister Emerson's remarks came at conference of Canadian and European
officials looking at closer economic relations between Canada and its second
biggest trading partner and source for tourists. They were accompanied by
comments from European Union Ambassador Dorian Prince, who said he hoped Europe could reach an exhaustive agreement with Canada as early as this fall.

"Aviation plays an important role in expanding trade and tourism opportunities for Canada, which is why we welcome progress on a comprehensive air service agreement between Canada and the EU as an important economic milestone for Canada," said CAC President and CEO Jim Facette. "We couldn't agree more with Minister Emerson's assertion that Canada-EU Open Skies will be a building block for Canada's success. It also will be an important part of our country's goal of promoting Canada as an international gateway to North America."

Open Aviation Area talks between Canada and the EU began last November.
The aim is to conclude an agreement that would greatly liberalize the air
market between Europe and Canada by replacing individual agreements between Canada and EU members with a regime that would recognise all 27 members as a single market for air service. This would allow any carrier from either market to operate direct service between anywhere in Canada and anywhere in the EU without restrictions on frequencies, capacity, pricing or other artificial market barriers.

The U.S. already has reached Open Skies agreements with 91 markets,
including an agreement with the EU that went into effect in March. Also today, EU and U.S. officials began talks to further expand this agreement.

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"The U.S. began to liberalize its aviation markets as official policy in 1992, while Canada's efforts really only have been in place informally since 2005," said Mr. Facette. "In our talks with the EU, Canada this year has the opportunity to 'catch-up' significantly to the competitive advantage that the
U.S. and U.S. carriers currently enjoy in international aviation markets."
           
More than half of Canada's overseas tourists hail from Europe. The EU also is Canada's second biggest trading partner after the U.S., with some $70.1 billion in imports/exports.