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IAG President Pushes for Open Skies Agreements

Walsh discusses presidential election and international aviation during speech.

International Airlines Group (IAG) president Willie Walsh is not being shy about his opinions of the presidential election and calling for a new agreement between Britain and the rest of the world. Air Transport World reports the outspoken executive made the comments during an address to the International Aviation Club on Wednesday, November 9, 2016.

With the United Kingdom five months removed from the British Referendum, the chief executive of Aer Lingus, British Airways and Iberia wants to ensure his airlines’ continued access to international markets. To continue this continuity, he is calling on the British parliament to consider new Open Skies agreements with the European Union, the United States and other nations.

“Aviation is a global industry,” Walsh told the audience, according to Air Transport World. “Anything short of an Open Skies would be a massive retrograde step. Limited flying is protectionism. We need a liberal regime to facilitate trade and connectivity between our nations.”

In addition to calling for more international aviation access, Walsh congratulated United States president-elect Donald Trump on his election win. Walsh expressed excitement in Trump’s victory speech, which promised to create jobs and strengthen the economy. He noted that if Trump is successful, it could benefit competition and choice for flyers in Europe and the United States.

“I personally look forward to seeing what President-elect Trump does,” Walsh said. “I expect this is going to be a very exciting time for aviation.”

Although the president-elect has not come forward with an aviation plan as part of his trade campaign, CAPA Center for Aviation predicts that a Trump administration could increase trade and aviation protectionism in the United States. On campaign rhetoric that promised tighter immigration and visa requirements, the analysis suggests that international aviation could suffer.

”Mr. Trump’s [campaign]…expressly attacked Norwegian Airlines International’s moves to operate into the US,” the analysts wrote. “The often-misplaced arguments fell squarely into the category of appealing to voters concerned for their jobs, and who see all the perceived negatives of foreign trade – without recognizing the positives.”

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