What Is the Definition of Open Sky Policy?

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Open sky agreements between countries eliminate the use of government oversight in commercial air carrier services such as capacity and pricing, giving carriers the ability to provide convenient and affordable air service. These agreements give airlines the right to fly to all points on the globe to encourage airline globalization.

Before the creation of open sky agreements, each region enforced control over its territorial boundaries with air, land and sea defenses. An aircraft could be apprehended or even shot down if it did not seek prior consent to fly over an area. A typical open sky agreement specifies no restrictions on the types of aircraft and the frequency of travel allowed through a nation’s space, as well as the hosting nation’s agreement to maintain high aviation safety and security standards.

Open sky agreements can be a bilateral agreement with two nations or a multilateral air transport agreement between two or more nations. The United States sought its first open sky agreement in 1979, and continued to solidify agreements with over 100 separate regions in the world. The United States succeeded in settling multilateral open skies accords with the 2001 Multilateral Agreement on the Liberalization of International Air Transportation with New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei, Chile, Samoa, Tonga and Mongolia and an agreement with the European Community in 2007.