Hong Kong Debates ‘Open Skies’
Hong Kong’s government this week formally addressed the continuing issue of whether the Province’s bilateral agreement with the U.S. should be revised. Though it is an on-going debate that will last for several weeks, World Airline News has been able to obtain sections of the first day’s conclusions. These include:
* (The government of Hong Kong) is prepared to consider “open skies” proposals from partners. Our guiding principle is whether the proposed arrangements represent a fair and balanced exchange of economic benefits and opportunities for both sides;
* The (current) Hong Kong/U.S. Air Services Agreement (ASA) was recognized by both sides at the time of conclusion as expansionary in nature and providing a win-win situation to the airlines of both sides. In fact, it is the most liberal ASA Hong Kong has signed with aviation partners; and
* The Hong Kong/U.S. ASA does not restrict the number of carriers or the frequency of direct services between Hong Kong and specified U.S. points. Currently, eight U.S. airlines operate on routes under the ASA as against one Hong Kong airline. The ratios of passenger traffic and cargo carriage between U.S. and Hong Kong airlines are also tilted heavily in favor of the U.S. airlines. It is difficult to see how the bilateral (agreement) could be regarded as restrictive.
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