March 10, 2016
The Gift That Keeps On Giving
Earlier this month, the Department of Transportation (DOT) launched a year-long celebration in honor of its 50th anniversary as a Cabinet-level Agency. Throughout its 50-year history, DOT has aspired to enable safe, efficient and accessible transportation options to the American public, and found itself at the forefront of a number of dynamic and innovative changes in the transportation sector.
One such example can be found in DOT’s historic leadership, along with the Department of State, in the promotion of Open Skies agreements. These agreements – negotiated with the United States’ foreign aviation partners – seek to break down barriers in the international aviation marketplace by removing government restrictions on the destinations, the frequency and capacity of flights, and the fares that U.S. and foreign airlines may offer their customers.
The Open Skies policy was incubated in the United States and is a uniquely American concept. By replacing the outdated protectionist regime of years past, the U.S. revolutionized international aviation with a pro-market policy that has delivered tremendous economic growth, promoted airline competition to the benefit of consumers, and opened new doors to U.S. cargo carriers seeking to transport American goods across the globe. Then-Secretary of Transportation Andrew H. Card, who co-signed the first Open Skies pact in 1992 with the Netherlands, said the agreement “provide(s) a model for market-oriented aviation agreements with other countries.” Indeed, since 1992 the United States has signed nearly 120 Open Skies agreements worldwide.
Open Skies remains one of the United States’ most successful foreign policy achievements in the past two decades, delivering fundamental and tangible benefits to the U.S. economy, American consumers and communities, and U.S. domestic airlines. Notably, this policy has been pursued vigorously by four successive presidential administrations of both political parties.
As DOT celebrates its 50th anniversary, it can be proud of the role it has played in the development and implementation of Open Skies agreements, and should remain steadfast in its pursuit of this dynamic and innovative policy.