The White House made formal yesterday its dready functional policy favoring increased competition and less government intervention in international aviation.
The principal purpose of the formal U.S. policy statement is to outline the principles that are to guide U.S. negotiators of bilateral air services agreements with foreign countries.
"Our policy seeks to encourage vigorous competition, with the goals of permitting lower fares, better service to more cities, and fewer government restrictions on charter trave," President Carter said in a statement released by the White House.
The policy statement is little changed from the proposed policy outlined in May and, as expected, also is consistent with general principles outlined for negotiators by President Carter last year after a U.S.-British agreement signed last summer was widely criticized as being more restrictive in actuality than administration statements of philosophy led one to expect.
Although President Carter's instructions and repeated statements by other officials have emphasized that the U. S. sought to reduce government restrictions and rely more on competitive market forces in international aviation agreements, one high transportation official said negotiators of some countries continue to press for restrictive agreements. "We have to convince them we're serious," he said.
In his statement, Carter emphasized the point: "I hope that our formal statement, by making our position clear, will ease the difficult process of negotiating additional air agreements with other countries," he said.
Negotiations are conducted by an interagency group composed of State and Transportation Departments and Civil Aeronautics Board officials, with State leading the delegations. Within the past year, negotiations were held with 26 countries to discuss more liberal bilateral agreements.
Both Carter and Transportation Secretary Brock Adams, who released the policy statement, emphasized that the principles embodied in the policy have already produced a number of significant competitive developments, and lower fares, in international air travel.
"The policy has let the middle-American tourist and family have a chance to travel at fares they can afford," Adams told a White House briefing. He pointed to the U.S.-Israel agreement that meet U.S. policy obmost recent example of a bilateral agreement that meet U.S. policy objectives. It increases the availability of flights between the two countries, encourages price competition, and makes low-cost charter service generally available to Israel for the first time he noted.
A White House fact sheet said that the U.S. policy of seeking agreements permitting airlines to set prices freely in the competitive marketplace already has resulted in price reductions. In the past 12 months, it noted, the lowest available reserved-seat fares between some major U. S. and European cities have fallen between 29 and 39 percent; standby fares have been reduced between 29 and 45 percent in the same period.
The formal policy sets seven general objectives:
Creation of new and greater opportunities for innovative and competitive pricing.
Liberalization of charter rules and removal of restrictions on charter operations.
Expansion of scheduled service by eliminating restrictions on passenger capacity, flight frequencies and airlines' route and operating rights.
Elimination of discrimination and unfair competitive practices faced by U.S. airlines abroad.
Flexibility to have more than one U.S. airline on international routes.
Increasing the number of U.S. cities to get nonstop or direct air service to foreign countries.
Flexibility in aircraft, routes and ground services to permit the development of an ever-widening range of cargo services.
"Proposed bilateral agreement which do not meet our minimum competitve objectives will not be signed without prior Presidential approval," the policy statement declares.