FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (Geneva) -- The International Air Transport Association (IATA) welcomed today's EU approval of the US-EU open skies agreement.

"Airlines need greater commercial freedom to run their businesses as real businesses and serve passengers effectively. Today's agreement between the US and the EU is a step in the right direction. I congratulate all involved for moving the agenda forward and challenge them to go even further," said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA's Director General and CEO.

The association also welcomed the establishment of a Joint Committee to monitor progress, particularly in two key areas. The first is to provide for second stage discussions on further liberalisation. "The industry needs fundamental change and the US and the EU have the critical mass to achieve it. As we celebrate today's achievement, it's time to set aggressive targets to create even more opportunities on both sides of the Atlantic. This includes modernising the archaic ownership rules that are almost unique to aviation," said Bisignani.

The second area is harmonisation. "Having established a new relationship, there is a joint responsibility to ensure that the agreement provides benefits beyond the commercial. A special challenge will be to move forward with harmonisation of security measures with the goal of improving effectiveness while reducing the many hassles that our passengers face," said Bisignani.