Monday, December 6, 2010

U.S./Brazil Open 2015

According to a news report releases yesterday, the United States and Brazil have agreed to a framework agreement which would liberalize their air services trade relations by 2015.  See Doug Cameron, US, Brazil Reach Open-Skies [sic] Aviation Pact, Dow Jones Newswire, Dec. 5, 2010 (available here).  According to the story, "[t]he proposed deal would start ending restrictions on the number of flights between the countries from next year, with barriers on the busiest routes--notably to and from Sao Paulo's congested airports--coming down from 2013."

Until the text of the agreement is released, it's impossible to tell what other illiberal provisions may still be lurking in the deal.  One question which immediately comes to mind is whether the Department of Transportation will view the new agreement as "good enough" for purposes of granting antitrust immunity to potential alliance link-ups between U.S. and Brazilian airlines.  Historically, the DOT has insisted on "the existence of an 'open-skies' regulatory framework between the U.S. and foreign carriers' homelands [as] a necessary predicate to [the Department's] consideration of requests for antitrust immunity."  See Final Order, at 2, Dkt. No. OST-2008-0234 (Dep't of Transp. July 10, 2009).

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