International Aviation:

DOT's Efforts to Promote U.S. Air Cargo Carriers' Interests

RCED-97-13: Published: Oct 18, 1996. Publicly Released: Oct 18, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed U.S. air cargo airlines' reported problems in doing business abroad, focusing on the: (1) nature of the airlines' problems; (2) actions the affected airlines and the Departments of Transportation (DOT) and State have taken to resolve these problems; (3) extent to which the U.S. government has addressed air cargo issues in policymaking and during bilateral aviation negotiations; and (4) possibilities for separating negotiations of air cargo services from broader negotiations that include passenger services.

GAO found that: (1) the 22 U.S. all-cargo airlines responding to a survey reported a range of obstacles to doing business abroad which impair their competitiveness and reported that they experienced significant problems at 81 foreign airports; (2) the most pervasive problems were related to regulation by foreign governments and foreign aviation authorities, with most of these problems occurring at airports in Latin America or the Asia-Pacific region; (3) many of the carriers have attempted to resolve such problems themselves, although some have requested assistance from DOT or State, while others were unaware that assistance was available; (4) U.S. delegations have raised air cargo issues with more than three-quarters of the countries with which they have conducted bilateral talks since 1989; (5) restrictions persist in spite of the resulting expansion of opportunities for U.S. all-cargo carriers; and (6) 13 of the 22 airlines advocate separating negotiations of air-cargo rights from broader negotiations that also address passenger rights, but this approach may not be practical or appropriate on a regular basis.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOT is developing information concerning the assistance the Department can offer airlines in resolving doing-business problems abroad.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should develop and distribute to all U.S. airlines information on the assistance available and guidance on the procedures to be followed in requesting aid from the U.S. government in resolving problems in doing business abroad.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOT is incorporating the experience of U.S. all-cargo carriers that operate internationally in its database of U.S. airlines' doing-business problems abroad and anticipates completion by the end of 1997.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should extend the current DOT effort to collect information on the status and severity of U.S. airlines' problems in doing business abroad to include all U.S. all-cargo airlines that operate internationally.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation


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