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Singapore And UK Sign Open Skies Agreement

by Mary Swire,, Hong Kong

03 December 2007

The governments of Singapore and the United Kingdom have signed an Open Skies Agreement (OSA), which will remove all restrictions on air services operated by Singapore and UK carriers.

The landmark agreement was signed by Singapore’s Minister for Transport and Second Minister for Foreign Affairs, Raymond Lim and United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Transport, Ruth Kelly in London on November 21.

The agreement goes beyond conventional OSAs, by providing for unlimited 'hubbing' and 'cabotage' rights for carriers of both countries. The deal removes or relaxes restrictions in areas including the following: the right of airlines to pick up and set down passengers and cargo at intermediate or beyond points; the right of airlines to operate services within each others' countries, and from each others' countries to other points; and the right of airlines to enter co-operative arrangements such as codesharing (joint operation and marketing of services).

The agreement also prevents fair competition from being distorted by government subsidy or other means, and incorporates European law on the right of establishment, extending the benefits of the agreement to all EU airlines.

The OSA will be effective from the end of March 2008, which is also the effective date of Stage 1 of the EU-US aviation agreement that opens the transatlantic market to all European and US carriers.

At the signing ceremony, Lim commented:

“I am very happy that the UK and Singapore have managed to conclude such a liberal and comprehensive air transport agreement. This landmark Open Skies Agreement clearly reflects the strong bilateral ties between both countries. Singapore has always embraced and championed a proliberalisation aviation regime, and we are naturally delighted that the UK shares this view."

He continued: "With the opening of Changi Airport’s Terminal 3 and Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5 in the coming year, it is my hope that this agreement will enable our carriers to expand their networks and enhance their connectivity at both airports, and ultimately, take aviation cooperation between Singapore and the UK to even greater heights.”

Kelly added:

"I am delighted to sign this landmark deal, which will be good for passengers and for the aviation industry, both in the UK and Singapore. As the most liberal agreement of its kind to date, I hope it will set the standard for other comparable agreements in the future. This is a major step forward in extending the benefits of open aviation agreements such as travellers already enjoy within Europe."

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