US-UK air services pact gives cargo operators additional rights

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The recent air services agreement signed by the US and UK provides US cargo operators with rights they did not have under the US’s deal with the European Union (EU).

The agreement, which was concluded two years ago and signed by both countries on November 17, ensures flights continue between the two countries after the UK leaves the EU later this year, continuing the so-called ‘open skies’ between them.

The new document adds an additional provision that US airlines transporting freight between the UK and third countries will not have to land on US soil first. This would, for example, allow the US carriers to operate such all-cargo flights between the UK and EU unrestricted.

“The US-UK agreement includes seventh-freedom air traffic rights for US all-cargo services,” the DOT said. “This means that US airlines can perform all-cargo services between the United Kingdom and a third country, without providing a commercial nexus back to the United States.”

“This right was not available to US airlines previously under the US-EU agreement,” the DOT adds.

The existing air services agreement between the EU and the US, signed in 2007, covers flights between the two countries. However with the UK’s Brexit transition period concluding at the end of the year, the countries had to negotiate a separate pact that would encompass traffic between the UK and the US.

The agreement will enter into full legal force after completion of both sides’ procedures for an international agreement, The DOT says. The parties plan to apply the agreement from 1 January 2021.

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