Complicated aviation laws and regulations have long created invisible boundaries that stymie commercial aviation development. However, the United States has been a pioneer for many years in what are called Open Skies agreements, which are international treaties designed to rid the world of burdensome regulations that impede commercial airlines. The first Open Skies air services agreement was made between the United States and the Netherlands in 1992. In the years since then, more than 100 countries have made Open Skies agreements with the United States.
There are myriad examples of how Open Skies agreements have helped countries meet economic goals. In the United States, Open Skies initiatives have led to major boons for airports across the country, ranging from Minneapolis and Memphis to Detroit and Dallas-Fort Worth. Indeed, liberalized air services lead to significant traffic growth, between 12 percent and 35 percent, and experts estimate that full liberalization via Open Skies agreements between the 320 country pairs would lead to gains of some $490 billion in international gross domestic product. On a smaller scale, Open Skies agreements can directly boost local economies. Liberalized service from a U.S. city to a European Union city can result in $720 million in gains for the U.S. city’s regional economy.