Types of Air Services Agreement

When you travel by air, you probably give little thought to the legal agreements that allow airlines to operate across borders. However, for airlines, air services agreements (ASAs) are crucial documents that enable them to fly to different countries, land at different airports, and carry passengers and cargo. Air services agreements, also known as air transport agreements or open skies agreements, are negotiated between countries and lay out the terms and conditions for air transport between them. Here are the four main types of air services agreements.

1. Bilateral Agreements

Bilateral agreements are the most common type of air services agreement and are negotiated between two countries. These agreements are based on the principle of reciprocity, meaning that the rights and privileges granted to one country`s airlines are granted to the other country`s airlines. Bilateral agreements typically cover issues such as the number of flights, the types of aircraft allowed, the routes that airlines can take, and passenger and cargo rates.

2. Multilateral Agreements

Multilateral agreements are negotiated between multiple countries and cover issues related to air transport within a particular region. These agreements are designed to liberalize air transport within the region by removing restrictions on airlines and allowing them to operate more freely. The most well-known example of a multilateral agreement is the European Union`s Single European Sky agreement, which has allowed EU airlines to operate without restrictions within the EU.

3. Open Skies Agreements

Open skies agreements are similar to bilateral agreements but are more liberal in nature. These agreements allow airlines to fly between countries without restrictions on the number of flights, the types of aircraft, or the routes they can take. Open skies agreements also allow airlines to set their own rates for passengers and cargo. The United States has been a strong proponent of open skies agreements, having signed agreements with more than 100 countries.

4. Memorandum of Understanding

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) is a non-binding agreement that sets out the framework for negotiations between two countries. MOUs can cover a wide range of issues related to air transport, including route rights, safety standards, and airport infrastructure. MOUs are typically used as a starting point for negotiations and can be used to lay the groundwork for a more comprehensive air services agreement.

In conclusion, air services agreements are crucial documents that enable airlines to operate across borders. The type of agreement negotiated between countries depends on the level of liberalization desired and the specific issues that need to be addressed. As air travel continues to grow in popularity, we can expect to see more countries negotiating air services agreements to facilitate air transport and promote economic growth.