The Blue Sky Policy: Made in Canada, for Canada

From Transport Canada

On November 27, 2006, we officially adopted the Blue Sky Policy to guide the negotiation of air transportation agreements (ATA) with countries around the world. The policy aims to encourage long-term and sustainable competition. It also encourages the development of new and expanded international air services to benefit passengers, shippers and the tourism and business sectors.

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Why these agreements are important

Canada and 190 other countries signed the Convention on International Civil Aviation, also known as the Chicago Convention. The Convention affirms that all countries, including Canada, have complete control over their airspace. So they have to give other countries permission to fly over and within their airspace. This is done by negotiating ATAs.

Bilateral ATAs are treaties that are binding under international law. Once an ATA has been ratified and signed by both countries, it doesn’t have an expiry date. ATAs typically set out operating rights such as the cities to be served, the number and frequency of flights and the number of airlines that can operate. They also specify rules around safety and security.

Types of agreements under the Blue Sky policy

Under the Blue Sky policy, we take a more pro-active approach to negotiating ATAs. The aim of these ATAs is to encourage competition, provide opportunities to grow and develop new services and generally support Canada’s trade objectives.

Each agreement is negotiated on a case-by-case basis. This allows us to assess the risks and benefits of each agreement in relation to Canada’s interests.

ATAs put in place a legal framework within which carriers make their own decisions based on commercial considerations. Expanding an ATA does not guarantee that new services will be put in place. It is up to each carrier to decide whether to use the new business opportunities provided by the ATA.

Three types of agreements are negotiated or amended under the Blue Sky policy:

  • An Open Skies-type agreement allows any number of carriers to operate both direct and indirect services between Canada and another country. Airlines choose the routes to serve, the frequency of the service and the prices of flights, without any restrictions.
  • An expanded agreement modifies an existing bilateral agreement. It generally provides more flexible provisions to carriers. An agreement can be expanded many times.
  • A first-time agreement puts in place a new formal framework to govern scheduled services between Canada and its new partner.

Expanded or first time agreements that are not Open-Skies-type agreements do not necessarily constrain the plans of carriers. In most cases, they contain sufficient rights to allow carriers to launch new services without having to renegotiate or make changes to the agreement.

Countries covered by negotiations under the Blue Sky policy

Under the Blue Sky policy, Canada has concluded new or expanded ATAs covering 100 countries. This includes a comprehensive ATA with the European Union’s 28 member countries, including Ireland and Croatia. All of the agreements concluded under the Blue Sky policy cover 96% of Canada’s overall international passenger traffic and of this, 70% is covered by an Open Skies-type agreement.

It can take several years for an agreement to be ratified as a treaty. So ATAs are often applied administratively once the negotiations are done. This means that carriers can use the rights negotiated in the agreement, even if the ATA has not been ratified.

Open Skies-type agreements with 20 countries

Countries

Date concluded

Antigua and Barbuda

May 2016

Barbados

December 2007

Belize

December 2016

Brazil

February 2011

Costa Rica

February 2009

Curaçao

March 2012

The Dominican Republic

September 2008

El Salvador

March 2010

Guyana

November 2014

Honduras

November 2011

Iceland

July 2007

Ireland

April 2007
(Open Skies rights were grandfathered under the Comprehensive Canada-EU Agreement)

Jamaica

July 2010

New Zealand

August 2007

Nicaragua

January 2012

Saint Lucia

May 2016

Saint Maarten

March 2012

South Korea

June 2009

Switzerland

September 2010

Trinidad and Tobago

October 2010

Expanded agreements with 23 countries

Countries

Date concluded

Algeria

 

September 2013

May 2015

Australia

December 2015

The Bahamas

December 2016

China

 

November 2011

June 2013

December 2015

September 2016

Cuba

 

October 2009

May 2015

Egypt

November 2010

Ethiopia

 

January 2010
(first-time agreement)

September 2013

Haiti

December 2013

India

 

June 2011

July 2012

Japan

 

January 2007

April 2009

February 2011

September 2011

September 2013

Jordan

June 2007

Malaysia

September 2013

Mexico

 

December 2007

July 2011

June 2016

Morocco

November 2009

Pakistan

October 2011

Panama

 

May 2008
(first-time agreement)

November 2013

Peru

May 2013

Thailand

June 2017

The Philippines

 

May 2008

May 2014

Saudi Arabia

December 2012

Singapore

 

November 2007

December 2016

South Africa

 

July 2009
(first-time agreement)

September 2013

Turkey

 

March 2009
(first-time agreement)

October 2011

September 2013

First-time agreements with 31 countries

Countries

Date concluded

Azerbaijan

December 2013

Bahrain

December 2012

Bangladesh

August 2013

Benin

December 2016

Burkina Faso

March 2013

Burundi

December 2013

Colombia

March 2012

Croatia

December 2006
(The ATA was superseded by the more liberal Comprehensive Canada-EU Agreement)

Ecuador

September 2013

Gambia

December 2012

Guinea

December 2016

Israel

September 2013

Kenya

September 2012

Kuwait

May 2007

Macedonia

September 2013

Mali

November 2014

Mauritius

December 2016

Nigeria

November 2014

Oman

November 2014

Paraguay

December 2012

Qatar

October 2010

Rwanda

October 2011

Senegal

September 2012

Serbia

December 2006

The Seychelles

December 2016

Sierra Leone

September 2012

Sri Lanka

December 2016

Tanzania

December 2016

Togo

December 2013

Tunisia

February 2010

Uruguay

December 2012

A comprehensive ATA with the European Union, covering the 28 member countries (administratively applied upon signature on December 18, 2009)

Countries

Date concluded

Austria

November 2008

Belgium

November 2008

Bulgaria

November 2008

Croatia

October 2013
(Canada-EU Agreement applied to Croatia in October 2013, after it joined the EU in July 2013)

Cyprus

November 2008

Czech Republic

November 2008

Denmark

November 2008

Estonia

November 2008

Finland

November 2008

France

November 2008

Germany

November 2008

Greece

November 2008

Hungary

November 2008

Ireland

November 2008

Italy

November 2008

Latvia

November 2008

Lithuania

November 2008

Luxembourg

November 2008

Malta

November 2008

Netherlands

November 2008

Poland

November 2008

Portugal

November 2008

Romania

November 2008

Slovakia

November 2008

Slovenia

November 2008

Spain

November 2008

Sweden

November 2008

United Kingdom

November 2008

Looking to the future

Canada will continue to negotiate new ATAs and expand existing agreements to promote the interests of Canadian consumers and stakeholders, as well as our trade and tourism sectors.

Related links

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