The U.S. and the European Union signed the "second stage" of their trans-Atlantic air services agreement Thursday, locking in indefinitely the broad open skies agreement signed three years ago and ensuring ongoing cooperations on aviation security, safety and competition issues.
The 2007 accord ended years of harsh words between Washington and Brussels and opened up new services, including a sharp increase in cargo operations between the U.S. and members of the EU.
The signing in Luxembourg follows a separate air services agreement the U.S. announced this week with Switzerland, which is not a member of the EU, and means carriers on both sides of the Atlantic will have greater access to routes that do not touch their home countries.
President Obama and members of the EU called for the new agreement to be signed during the last U.S.-EU summit. The agreement is effective June 24.
American-based airlines will be allowed greater protection from what the U.S. called "arbitrary restrictions" on night flights at European airports. But it leaves controversial questions such as the legality of night flight bans and foreign investment in U.S. carriers, something American labor groups oppose, to later negotiation.
Airlines from both the U.S. and the EU also agree to work together on trans-Atlantic aviation environmental awareness.