The UK’s approach to international air transport focuses on the removal of barriers to market entry and doing business. For example, we seek:-
- liberal Air Services Agreements (ASAs) which deliver a wide array of traffic rights, international connectivity and commercial flexibility, and,
- to remove, or at least minimise, other barriers such as unfair competition, ownership and control restrictions and unnecessary administrative and regulatory burdens.
We believe that the liberalisation of international air transport improves connectivity to/from the UK, facilitating business-to-business and people-to-people links that benefit our wider economy, helping to generate jobs and growth. Such liberalisation also maximises business opportunities for UK airlines and airports and competition for the supply of goods and services - delivering cost, choice and quality benefits for UK businesses and consumers.
In addition to negotiating bilateral ASAs, my officials are also engaged in multilateral negotiations relating to market access. For example, officials have participated recently in initial, exploratory, dialogues between:-
- the European Union and the Association of South East Asian Nations, and,
- the EU and the Gulf Cooperation Council.
These dialogues are considering the potential for closer cooperation in the field of international air transport. In both cases, the dialogue is at an early stage, focussing on building mutual understanding, and no firm conclusions about the way forward have been drawn to date.
My officials are also engaged in the work of ICAO’s Air Transport Regulation Panel which, amongst other things, is tasked to develop a multilateral agreement to help facilitate the liberalisation of international air transport. This work is ongoing and, to date, a draft of such an agreement has not been finalised.