Contributions to Trade and Tourism, and Benefits for Consumers

The Blue Sky Policy: Canada’s International Air Policy


The Blue Sky Policy is Canada's international air transportation policy and is built around the following objectives:

  1. providing a framework that encourages long-term and sustainable competition and the development of new and expanded international air services;
  2. providing Canadians with increased connectivity, which means greater choices in terms of destinations and number of direct flights;
  3. facilitating opportunities for Canadian airlines to grow and compete successfully in a more liberalized global environment;
  4. enabling airports to market themselves with more flexibility;
  5. supporting and facilitating Canada's international trade priorities; and
  6. supporting a safe, secure, efficient and economically healthy and viable Canadian air transportation industry.

The Policy's overall approach also takes into account Canada's unique geographical characteristics, the state and maturity of Canadian airlines, as well as the trends affecting the global aviation market.

Factors Considered When Developing Negotiating Priorities

Several factors are considered when identifying priorities, namely:

  1. Canadian airline and airport priorities and interests;
  2. Likelihood and extent of new Canadian and foreign carrier services (giving preference where early launch of services is planned);
  3. Size and maturity of the air transportation markets and room for future growth;
  4. Foreign government requests for negotiations;
  5. Canada's international trade objectives;
  6. Safety and security issues;
  7. Canada's foreign relations; and
  8. Bilateral irritants and current disputes.

Importance of Stakeholder Consultations

Consultations are an important element of Canada’s international air policy. Aviation industry stakeholders are regularly consulted for their input regarding priority setting and the development of negotiating mandates. Under the Federal Tourism Strategy, for example, the Canadian tourism sector is consulted on its priority markets. Further information regarding the establishment of the proposed list of negotiations can be found here.

Tangible Benefits for Consumers

Since November 2006, new airlines have entered or have expanded their services into Canada.  Canadian carriers have also made use of the commercial opportunities created by the expanded or new agreements negotiated under the Blue Sky Policy.  From 2006 to 2013, Canadian carriers have increased the number of out-bound, scheduled, international flights (excluding the US) by approximately 80%, while the number of international destinations (excluding the US) served via scheduled flights increased by 28%.

Unused Traffic Rights under Air Transport Agreements (ATAs)

The Blue Sky Policy aims to provide air carriers with more opportunities to expand their services and airports to market themselves to airlines. It is important to note that the vast majority of Canada's ATAs provide more capacity than Canadian and/or foreign carriers are currently using, thereby allowing room for future growth. Ultimately, it is up to the carriers to make commercial decisions based on actual demand and market viability.

Contribution to Trade and Tourism

The implementation of the Blue Sky Policy has supported the Global Markets Action Plan.

The following key in-bound tourism markets, identified by Destination Canada, have been the focus of liberalization efforts under the Blue Sky Policy.

United Kingdom Open (pre-dates the Policy)
Mexico Open for direct services
France Open
Germany Open
China Unused capacity available
India Unused capacity available
Japan Open for direct services
South Korea Open
Australia Unused capacity available
Brazil Open
United States Open (pre-dates the Policy)

Support for Other Government Policies

The Policy also supports key federal government initiatives such as the Global Markets Action Plan and the Federal Tourism Strategy.

Date modified: