Today, Rep. Michaud, Rep. Jones, Rep. Grimm, and Rep. Foster circulated a bipartisan letter asking the U.S. trade representative to leave aviation out of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal currently being negotiated between the U.S. and E.U. Air service agreements have no place in TTIP. Historically, negotiations relating to air traffic rights in the aviation industry have been conducted by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Department of State (DOS). DOT and DOS have negotiated 110 “Open Skies Agreements” over the past 20 years under Republican and Democratic presidents and these agencies possess the resources, expertise and understanding of the aviation industry to conduct bilateral and multilateral negotiations pertaining to the aviation sector.
ALPA is concerned that the EU will try to circumvent this established process and use the TTIP to advance its agenda of chipping away at U.S. foreign ownership and control and cabotage laws, which would represent a direct attack on U.S. aviation jobs. We thank the Congressmen for their leadership on this issue and urge all members to join their efforts.
We understand that the United States Trade Representative (USTR) will attempt to negotiate a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with our allies in the European Union (EU). We wish to express our strong opposition to the inclusion of commercial aviation traffic rights traditionally covered by bilateral air services agreements from any agreement that may come out of these negotiations and respectfully request that the USTR inform the EU that issues covered by air services agreements will not be a part of the negotiations.
Historically, “air transport services” have been negotiated by the Department of State and Department of Transportation. These two agencies are well equipped to do this and possess the necessary expertise to negotiate on behalf of the commercial aviation industry and its employees. Agreements negotiated under this regime have reduced the number of trade barriers to international air transport services in a fair and equitable manner. Any request to add air traffic rights to the TTIP negotiations is an attempt by the EU to circumvent the established process for negotiating an air services agreement because they are not satisfied with the current U.S.-EU air transport agreement. There is no reason to change an effective and efficient process that over the last 20 years has produced 107 “Open Skies” air transport agreements.
In negotiating a free trade agreement with the EU, USTR will be negotiating what would be the largest free trade agreement in the history of our country. However, the USTR must dedicate its resources and expertise to negotiating in the sectors of our economy with which it has the most experience. This is a daunting task for USTR. For this reason, and the reasons mentioned above, we encourage USTR to insist that agreements over matters pertaining to international air traffic rights will continue to be negotiated by the Department of State and Department of Transportation.