The EP’s committee on transport and tourism gave a green light to updated EU-US air transport agreement on Thursday, removing the time limit for aircraft with crew lease.

The new EU-US agreement on “the time limitations on arrangements for the provision of aircraft with crew” seeks to clarify the 2007 EU-US air transport agreement and to remove any time limit on the possibilities for airlines to lease aircraft along with their crew, called “wet leasing”.                                                                                                       Signed on 27 August 2019 the new agreement also covers Iceland and Norway, who joined the EU-US aviation agreement since 2011. It confirms the establishment of clear and non-restrictive wet lease arrangements between the parties and states that no party shall impose time limitations on the operation of any wet lease.                                               The agreement, which was scrutinised by EP rapporteur Maria Grapini (S&D, RO) and backed by 48 votes (none against and without abstentions), is set to maximise the benefits for consumers, airlines, labour, and communities on both sides of the Atlantic, and strengthen the transatlantic air transportation system.

The full house of the Parliament is set to vote on the wet lease agreement in one of the next plenary sessions. Pending its entry into force, the parties already apply the new agreement provisionally since the date of signature.

Back in 2007, the EU signed an overall aviation agreement with the United States, which foresees an open wet lease regime between the Parties. However, in 2008 the EU also revised the rules for the EU internal aviation market, introducing a timing limitation for wet leasing of aircraft registered in third countries. The United States therefore considered that the limitations introduced by this Article limit the exercise of commercial rights for US airlines as granted by the US-EU air transport agreement.                                                  To clarify and resolve the situation, the Commission was authorised to negotiate an additional agreement concerning the time limitations on wet lease arrangements with the US, Norway, and Iceland.