Before Open Skies agreements, international commerce was stifled by post–World War II aviation rules that required governments to mandate flight routes between nations. These antiquated rules could not adapt to the aviation needs of a global economy and emerging technologies. In 1992, the United States signed an Open Skies agreement with the Netherlands to provide for unlimited flight between the two nations. Of course, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was, and still is, responsible for ensuring that all airlines—foreign and domestic, passenger and cargo—are safe and airworthy. The bipartisan pursuit of Open Skies agreements created a framework to enable U.S. passenger and cargo airlines to access foreign aviation markets that had previously shut out U.S. air carriers. They also provide manufacturers the ability to access new customers in overseas markets while increasing competition and facilitating global trade.
Manufacturers have been stalwart advocates of these agreements because we export U.S.-made parts and goods across the world and thus depend on air cargo services with the kind of uninterrupted and continuous global reach that only Open Skies agreements can provide. In fact, the Brookings Institution estimates that Open Skies agreements add approximately $4 billion in annual economic gains to consumers. Learn more here.
And so, with the FAA reauthorization process underway and a September 30 authorization deadline looming, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) continues to urge both House and Senate leaders to support current Open Skies agreements because they open markets, promote competition and offer more options for manufacturers to access overseas customers. At the same time, manufacturers urge the Senate to reject proposals that would undermine Open Skies agreements and result in disruptions to the current agreements, jeopardizing manufacturers’ access to international aviation networks. That is why manufacturers stand with the Trump administration’s opposition to the so-called “Flag of Convenience” provision (Section 530) of the House-passed FAA Reauthorization Act (H.R. 4). This provision would create new barriers for foreign carriers to enter U.S. airspace beyond the negotiated standards of our current Open Skies agreements. These new barriers would violate our current agreements and invite retaliatory action against U.S. cargo and passenger air carriers operating across the globe and providing manufacturers access to overseas customers. Learn more here.
Manufacturers need products and parts made in the United States to continue to have the guaranteed delivery to overseas customers that is protected by our current Open Skies agreements, and so we have been active on this issue for some time. In 2015, the NAM underscored to the departments of Commerce, State and Transportation that manufacturers in the United States depend on sales overseas to sustain and grow American operations and U.S.-based employment. And in 2017, the NAM reminded the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee that Open Skies bilateral aviation agreements are one of several important tools that help ensure manufacturers’ access to global markets and critical services that support manufacturers in the United States. Now, with the Senate considering Open Skies agreements as part of the FAA reauthorization legislation, the NAM is again speaking out by urging Congress to reject false, so-called “Flags of Convenience” amendments and protect manufacturers’ access to international aviation networks and overseas customers that only these agreements can provide.