BRUSSELS – U.S.,EU, Norwegian, and Icelandic officials today signed an agreement that levels the competitive playing field for U.S. air carriers seeking to “wet lease” to European carriers. Today’s signature marks the end of a long-standing commercial concern for U.S. carriers, and restoration of their ability to participate on fair terms in the market for “wet lease” services. DOT Deputy Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs, Mr. David Short, signed the agreement for the United States.
A “wet lease” is a commercial arrangement whereby one air carrier rents out its airplanes and crews for use by another carrier. These types of leases can represent an important revenue source to the carrier providing the aircraft and crews.
European Community (EC) regulations (which are also applied by Norway and Iceland) for years severely limited U.S. carrier ability to “wet lease” to EU carriers. At the same time, EU carriers faced no such limitations under DOT regulations when providing aircraft and crew either to each other or to U.S. carriers.
DOT, along with other U.S. Government agencies, took a number of steps in an effort to resolve the problem, and today’s signing represents a successful culmination of those efforts. The agreement removes the limitations that had been imposed on U.S. carriers by the EC regulations. U.S. carriers will now be able to compete fairly in the marketplace, more broadly offering their services in worldwide markets, and gaining a valuable chance to benefit from the new commercial opportunities.