30 December 2006

DoT approval for United Airlines alliance with Star partners including Air Canada

On 19 December 2006 the US Department of Transportation announced tentative approval of alliance arrangements between Star Alliance airlines, including expanded cooperation between Air Canada and United Airlines. Should this decision be confirmed it will clear the way for the signing of a comprehensive "open skies" agreement between Canada and the United States. This follows the conclusion by Canada of an "open skies" agreement with the United Kingdom announced on 21 April 2006.

The Canada-United States agreement, which was initialled on 10 November 2005, includes a full exchange of fifth freedom rights. At the time separate official media statements were made in the United States and Canada.

Air Canada announced back on 25 January 2006 that it is seeking to operated from Toronto beyond LAX non-stop to SYD but this would also require the necessary traffic rights to have been agreed between Canada and Australia. Los Angeles was not included as an intermediate point for Canadian airlines in the 1988 Australia-Canada air services agreement. The Canadian Transportation Agency summary of the bilateral arrangements indicates that Australian Government agreement would be required. Australian-based Virgin Blue's trans-Pacific plans which apparently require amendment to the Australia-United States air services arrangements, reported on 14 December 2006, may complicate matters.

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