On 11 May 2017, the Council of the European Union gave the Commission the go-ahead to negotiate a clarification to the EU – United States air transport agreement signed on 25 and 30 April 2007.

The negotiation aims at removing any time limit to the “wet leasing” of aircrafts, i.e. the leasing of an aircraft along with its crew. The new agreement will clarify the relevant provisions in the 2007 agreement and it will also grant an exemption from the current rules governing EU airlines’ ability to wet-lease aircraft registered in non-EU countries, since these rules limit the maximum duration of such arrangements to seven months, renewable once. The new rules will make it easier for airlines to open new routes and to respond to, for example, seasonal demand for tourist destinations. Increased flexibility for aircraft operators brings wider choice and lower prices for customers.

Joe Mizzi, the Maltese Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, said: “The wet-lease agreement with the United States will create new business opportunities and improve services on both sides of the Atlantic. It continues our tradition of lifting market access barriers to bring benefits to passengers and airlines alike.”