Munich Personal RePEc Archive

International civil aviation - all together or all against all?

Grancay, Martin (2009): International civil aviation - all together or all against all?

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International civil aviation has without doubts worked as one of the strongest drivers of globalization for the past 30 years. It is paradoxical that although it helped liberalize multiple industries, the aviation sector itself remains highly protectionist, governed by 60-year-old framework of the Chicago conference. In 1980s a slow shift towards liberalization began in Western countries. However, this hasn´t penetrated into other parts of the world so far and even in the West it remains considerably limited. We identify various obstacles on the way towards full liberalization - the most important of them being national security issues. Aircrafts, airports and the whole aviation infrastructure is crucial for the wartime strategies of every country. Among others, U.S. Department of Defense is unlikely to give up control over hundreds of civil airliners that it has as a part of its Civil Reserve Air Fleet program. The second dimension is economic security. Air transportation is the only mode of transport for many hi-tech and perishable goods. Moreover, so-called flag carriers are an important part of national pride in many parts of the world. As a result of the three factors mentioned, countries are unwilling to open international aviation markets to competition and tend to protect their national carriers, even if they show low productivity level and their survival is economically doubtful. Another obstacle is the current global economic crisis – historically, crises have been marked by resurgence of protectionism. Therefore, we do not foresee an era of intergovernmental cooperation in the field of civil aviation. Rather, an “all against all” structure is to be expected in the coming decade.

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