Evaluating the Progress of the Liberalization of International Aviation toward Open Skies

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Dr. Tyler B. Spence
Dr. Steven M. Leib
Daniel Friedenzohn


The United States has engaged in well over 100 Open Skies Agreements with other ICAO member state partners reaching all parts of the globe. These Open Skies Agreements have established a practice of liberalization for airlines to have the most freedom to choose when, where, how often, and for how much they fly to locations. Despite a majority of ICAO member state partners engaging in Open Skies, there has been a reluctance of the member states to engage in the same practices with other aviation partners for similar access. A similar pattern is also evident for liberalization through the Freedoms of the Air, a key philosophical understanding set forth through ICAO practices describing the ways in which airlines can fly between the member states in the interest of international aviation. This paper evaluates the trend among the member states to engage in more liberalized aviation through their granted access to reduced government oversight of foreign airline access to sovereign airspace and the number of rights granted to their respective operational international partners. While the overwhelming number of agreements may not be fully liberalized Open Skies, there does appear to be an increasing desire to promote practices that connect member states at greater efficiencies and give travelers more options and more access to airline choice. 

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