International Transport Forum Discussion Papers

ITF Discussion Papers make economic research, commissioned or carried out in-house at the International Transport Forum, available to researchers and practitioners. They describe preliminary results or research in progress by the author(s) and are published to stimulate discussion on a broad range of issues on which the ITF works.

English, French

What Do We Mean by a Level Playing Field in International Aviation?

The issue of a “level playing field” has re-emerged as a major issue in international aviation. This issue has been around for decades but has been raised in recent policy debates. One policy forum in which this has been raised is the European Commission’s proposed revision to Regulation 868/2004, which some view as a response to allegations by some legacy carriers to the rapid growth of the Middle East carriers such as Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways. Another dimension to the concern over the level playing field is the evolution in foreign ownership rules, such as the type of treaty clauses being negotiated by the European Union. Could broader acceptance of service by carriers owned by third-party nationals create conditions for a flag of convenience regime of the kind that characterises parts of maritime liner shipping? The flag of convenience issue has been discussed in the U.S. media with regard to Norwegian Air Shuttle. Norwegian’s long haul services are operated by subsidiaries Norwegian Long Haul AS and Norwegian International Ltd. The former is registered in Norway while the latter is registered in Ireland and operates flights for its parent. Some long haul flights have operated with contract flight attendant labour based in Thailand.


This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error