Convergence of competition law and policy in the field of air transport with special reference to the EU-US context

    Prepared by the ICC commission on : Commission on Customs and Trade Facilitation
    Publication date : 16/07/1997

    Summary of recommendations

    The ICC:

    • supports a freer exchange of air services throughout the world, under competitive conditions which are transparent for all users of the air transport system;
    • notes the growing number of cross-border, especially transatlantic alliances among airlines;
    • notes also the potential for the unilateral application of competition policy, which causes lack of coherence between air transport regimes and uncertainty for users and airlines;
    • considers it necessary to seek convergence between air transport competition policies and a coherent and a more transparent regulatory aviation framework, both at the procedural and at the substantive levels, in order to facilitate freer exchange of international air transport services;
    • believes these principles of convergence should apply, in the first instance, to the EU/US market, since both entities have well-developed competition rules applying to air transport;
    • supports the eventual adoption of these principles by other regions as soon as reasonably practicable.

    With regard to procedural questions, the ICC believes there should be:

    • a regular exchange of non-confidential information between competent competition authorities concerning the enforcement of their respective air transport competition regimes;
    • application of the "positive comity" principle by these same authorities in order to avoid unilateral actions;
    • hand-in-hand with the EU/US negotiations, a grant of competence to the European Commission air transport negotiators by the European Council of Ministers to vest Commission negotiators with the power to negotiate on aviation competition issues having an impact on the single European market. The granting of this power should be subject to consultation with the competent national authorities, the industry and consumers' groups, and should be based on the Commission's developing a clear framework of principles and policies.

    With regard to substantive questions, the ICC supports:

    • the creation of clearly defined and transparent rules regarding transatlantic airline behaviour, whether unilateral or concerted, based on an analysis of the present standards of the two jurisdictions;
    • a greater convergence of competition laws and policies as they affect air transport, beginning with an EU/US agreement, which would then be open to participation by countries in other regions;
    • the development of an effective dispute settlement system to ensure the speedy resolution of conflicts between parties.