The US, India, the European Union along with twelve other countries are looking at ways to ease restrictions that govern the aviation industry worldwide. According to industry body IATA, the meet held in Istanbul was aimed at assessing regulations on airline competition and ownership with the aim of evolving a more conducive operating environment for carriers in this most international of industries.
The summit meet was organised by the International Air Transport Association and was attended by senior aviation officials from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Mauritius, Morocco, Panama, Singapore, Switzerland, Turkey and Vietnam apart from those of India, the US and the EU.
The meet was chaired by Jeff Shane, an aviation lawyer and former undersecretary for the US Transportation Department.
According to IATA, international air traffic is currently governed by about 3,500 bilateral air treaties that dictate route, frequency and ownership guidelines amongst other issues related to the civil aviation industry.
It is increasingly being felt that restrictions on aviation are still tighter than those governing other global industries.
''International air transport is something people think of as one of the most international businesses on the planet,'' said Shane. ``It is in fact one of the least international in terms of its corporate organization. All rules promulgated by national governments insist that airlines in their territory be owned and controlled by citizens of those territories.''
According to Shane, the airline industry would be much healthier and be better equipped to deal with downturns, such as that faced by it currently, if capital were allowed to flow more freely within the industry.
By allowing more competition, consumers would also be better served, he said. Today, for the most part, international carriers may not carry passengers across international lines unless the plane leaves from and ends up in the country in which that carrier is based.
According to IATA though no decisions were reached at the weekend summit, the participants have asked IATA to set up a second meeting in early 2009. This meet, IATA said, would help ''turn discussion into action.''
According to IATA director general and CEO, Giovanni Bisignani, the need for change was urgent, given the falling demand for air travel and huge losses being racked up be the world's airlines. Global airline-passenger traffic fell 2.9 per cent in September, which is the first drop in five years.