The Blue Sky Policy: Made in Canada, for Canada

On November 27, 2006, we officially adopted the Blue Sky Policy to guide the negotiation of air transportation agreements (ATA) with countries around the world. The policy aims to encourage long-term and sustainable competition. It also encourages the development of new and expanded international air services to benefit passengers, shippers and the tourism and business sectors.

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Why these agreements are important

Canada and 190 other countries signed the Convention on International Civil Aviation, also known as the Chicago Convention. The Convention affirms that all countries, including Canada, have complete control over their airspace. So they have to give other countries permission to fly over and within their airspace. This is done by negotiating ATAs.

Bilateral ATAs are treaties that are binding under international law. Once an ATA has been ratified and signed by both countries, it doesn’t have an expiry date. ATAs typically set out operating rights such as the cities to be served, the number and frequency of flights and the number of airlines that can operate. They also specify rules around safety and security.

Types of agreements under the Blue Sky policy

Under the Blue Sky policy, we take a more pro-active approach to negotiating ATAs. The aim of these ATAs is to encourage competition, provide opportunities to grow and develop new services and generally support Canada’s trade objectives.

Each agreement is negotiated on a case-by-case basis. This allows us to assess the risks and benefits of each agreement in relation to Canada’s interests.

ATAs put in place a legal framework within which carriers make their own decisions based on commercial considerations. Expanding an ATA does not guarantee that new services will be put in place. It is up to each carrier to decide whether to use the new business opportunities provided by the ATA.

Three types of agreements are negotiated or amended under the Blue Sky policy:

  • An Open Skies-type agreement allows any number of carriers to operate both direct and indirect services between Canada and another country. Airlines choose the routes to serve, the frequency of the service and the prices of flights, without any restrictions.
  • An expanded agreement modifies an existing bilateral agreement. It generally provides more flexible provisions to carriers. An agreement can be expanded many times.
  • A first-time agreement puts in place a new formal framework to govern scheduled services between Canada and its new partner.

Expanded or first time agreements that are not Open-Skies-type agreements do not necessarily constrain the plans of carriers. In most cases, they contain sufficient rights to allow carriers to launch new services without having to renegotiate or make changes to the agreement.

Countries covered by negotiations under the Blue Sky policy

Under the Blue Sky policy, Canada has concluded new or expanded ATAs covering 107 countries. This includes a comprehensive ATA with the European Union’s 27 members.

Counting the number of countries covered by ATAs or arrangements negotiated before the Blue Sky policy, Canada now has 124 partners around the world. These partners represent 98% of Canada’s overall international passenger traffic.

The ATAs and arrangements that allow for unrestricted direct services cover 82% of Canada’s overall international passenger traffic.

Open Skies-type agreements with 23 countries

Countries Date concluded
Antigua and Barbuda May 2016
Barbados December 2007
Belize December 2016
Brazil February 2011
Costa Rica February 2009
Curaçao March 2012
The Dominican Republic September 2008
El Salvador March 2010
Grenada May 2019
Guyana November 2014
Honduras November 2011
Iceland July 2007
Ireland April 2007
(Open Skies rights were grandfathered under the Comprehensive Canada-EU Agreement)
Jamaica July 2010
New Zealand August 2007
Nicaragua January 2012
Saint Lucia May 2016
Saint Maarten March 2012
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines December 2018
South Korea June 2009
Switzerland September 2010
Trinidad and Tobago October 2010
United Kingdom December 2019

Expanded agreements with 30 countries

Countries Date concluded
Algeria September 2013
May 2015
December 2018
Australia December 2015
The Bahamas December 2016
China November 2011
June 2013
December 2015
September 2016
Chile August 2019
Cuba October 2009
May 2015
Ecuador May 2019
September 2013
Egypt November 2010
June 2018
Ethiopia January 2010
(first-time agreement)
September 2013
December 2017
Haiti December 2013
India June 2011
July 2012
Israel September 2013
December 2017
Ivory Coast December 2018
Japan January 2007
April 2009
February 2011
September 2011
September 2013
Jordan June 2007
December 2018
Malaysia September 2013
Mexico December 2007
July 2011
June 2016
Morocco November 2009
December 2017
Pakistan October 2011
Panama May 2008
(first-time agreement)
November 2013
Peru May 2013
The Philippines May 2008
May 2014
Qatar October 2010
September 2017
November 2018
Saudi Arabia December 2012
Singapore November 2007
December 2016
South Africa July 2009
(first-time agreement)
September 2013
December 2017
Thailand June 2017
Tunisia February 2019
February 2010
Turkey March 2009
(first-time agreement)
October 2011
September 2013
United Arab Emirates July 2018

First-time agreements with 29 countries

Countries Date concluded
Azerbaijan December 2013
Bahrain December 2012
Bangladesh August 2013
Benin December 2016
Burkina Faso March 2013
Burundi December 2013
Colombia March 2012
Croatia December 2006
(The ATA was superseded by the more liberal Comprehensive Canada-EU Agreement)
Cameroon December 2017
Gambia December 2012
Guinea December 2016
Kenya September 2012
Kuwait May 2007
Macedonia September 2013
Mali November 2014
Mauritius December 2016
Mongolia December 2018
Nigeria November 2014
Oman November 2014
Paraguay December 2012
Rwanda October 2011
Senegal September 2012
Serbia December 2006
The Seychelles December 2016
Sierra Leone September 2012
Sri Lanka December 2016
Tanzania December 2016
Togo December 2013
Uruguay December 2012

A comprehensive ATA with the European Union, covering the 27 member countries (administratively applied upon signature on December 18, 2009)

Countries Date concluded
Austria November 2008
Belgium November 2008
Bulgaria November 2008
Croatia October 2013
(Canada-EU Agreement applied to Croatia in October 2013, after it joined the EU in July 2013)
Cyprus November 2008
Czech Republic November 2008
Denmark November 2008
Estonia November 2008
Finland November 2008
France November 2008
Germany November 2008
Greece November 2008
Hungary November 2008
Ireland November 2008
Italy November 2008
Latvia November 2008
Lithuania November 2008
Luxembourg November 2008
Malta November 2008
Netherlands November 2008
Poland November 2008
Portugal November 2008
Romania November 2008
Slovakia November 2008
Slovenia November 2008
Spain November 2008
Sweden November 2008

Looking to the future

Canada will continue to negotiate new ATAs and expand existing agreements to promote the interests of Canadian consumers and stakeholders, as well as our trade and tourism sectors.

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