The Blue Sky Policy: Made in Canada, for Canada

On November 27, 2006, the Blue Sky Policy was officially adopted by the Government of Canada. Since its inception, the Policy has become an important vehicle to promote connectivity between all Canadian regions and the world. It has also provided Canadian consumers with more choices in terms of destinations and number of direct flights.

General Approach

The Blue Sky Policy calls for a proactive approach to the liberalization of Air Transport Agreements (ATAs). In particular, it seeks to negotiate reciprocal Open Skies-type agreements when it is in Canada’s overall interest to do so. It does not advocate a “one-size-fits-all”, undifferentiated approach to air transport negotiations, and recognizes that, in some instances, it may be justified to exercise caution, for example, in markets where there are concerns about Canadian airlines being able to compete on a level playing field, or where the introduction of new services would risk destabilizing other, established, services that are valued by Canadian communities.

Achievements under the Blue Sky Policy: A Snapshot

Since November 2006, Canada has concluded new or expanded ATAs covering over 80 countries. As of January 2015, Canada has concluded open agreements with 44 countries that cover approximately 71% of Canada’s international passenger traffic. Canada has also concluded or offered an open agreement to countries collectively representing about 91% of Canada’s overall international two-way merchandise trade. Only about 2% of Canada’s overall international passenger traffic is under agreements/arrangements that impose practical constraints on airlines’ commercial plans. Since 2006, the number of bilateral partners has gone from 73 to 113 (55% increase).

  1. Open Skies-type agreements, which have, for example, no restrictions in terms of capacity or cities to be served, with 16 countries: Ireland, Iceland, New Zealand, Barbados, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, South Korea, El Salvador, Switzerland, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Brazil, Nicaragua, Honduras, Curaçao and Sint Maarten.
  2. Expanded agreements, which build on existing bilateral agreements, with 20 countries: China, India, Mexico, Japan, Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, Cuba, Haiti, Panama, Peru, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Turkey, Pakistan, Ethiopia and South Africa.
  3. New first-time agreements with 22 countries: Serbia, Croatia, Macedonia, Uruguay, Paraguay, Ecuador, Colombia, Azerbaijan, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Tunisia, Senegal, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Togo, the Gambia, and Israel.
  4. A comprehensive ATA between Canada and the European Union's 28 member states (including Ireland and Croatia).

Asia and the Americas continue to be the two geographical regions of focus for the implementation of the policy.

Looking into the Future

Transport Canada will continue to seek more ATAs to promote the interests of Canadian consumers, as well as our trade and tourism sectors. The outcomes of future negotiations will continue to support a range of federal government policies such as the Economic Action Plan, the Global Markets Action Plan, the Federal Tourism Strategy, Gateways and Corridors Initiatives, and the Americas’ Strategy.