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Shakhriyor Abdubakiev.

 Currently, the “open skies” policy is in force at airports located in many countries of the world.  What is the position of Uzbekistan in this regard?  What can be observed from the legal policy of our government in this direction?  Through this blogpost, I will carry out a legal analysis of the open skies policy and study the issues of this policy related to Uzbekistan and Uzbekistan Airways as well as other private airlines.

What is Open Skies Policy?

 In civil aviation, the “Open Skies” regime means the liberalization of the terms of use of the country’s airports for foreign airlines and ease of entry.  The liberalization of air traffic means the gradual expansion of the established standards of air traffic regulation in the “Convention on International Civil Aviation” signed in Chicago on December 7, 1944, and the creation of special aviation regimes called “Open Skies”.  There are 9 levels depending on the directions, the most convenient for us is the “Fifth Freedom of Air” level.

This is how experts answer the question on what the fifth freedom of the air is.

 “Fifth Freedom of the Air” gives airlines the right to transport passengers and cargo from one foreign country to another on a payment basis during the flight to their country: that is, the fifth freedom not only allows passengers from point A to point B and from point A to point C (at point B  by temporary landing), but also transport from point B to point C and from point C to B’ (A->B->C).  Passengers are primarily attracted by the low cost of flights from point B to point C and from point C to B.  Due to the fact that some passengers fly only to point V, the airline always has empty seats on the flight from point V to point C, and the airline tries to fill these seats as much as possible, applying special prices for this. In this case, the passenger will often be able to fly short distances on a B747/777, A330/A340 long-haul aircraft.

The Seventh freedom of air related to our law can be classified as follows.  This is the freedom to base aircraft in a foreign country for the use of international services.  That is, it includes the right to provide passenger transportation services between two countries outside their own country.  To put it simply, for example, an Uzbek company lands on the territory of neighboring Kazakhstan and gets the right to transport passengers to the Russian Federation.

What is the Advantage of “Open Sky” Mode?

The Open Skies regime opens up the market for international airlines for the country’s airports and their ground services.  The main principles of “Open Skies” are not only the provision of rights for transit flights, but also the non-interference of the government in the processes of formation and pricing of routes and airlines, as well as the absence of restrictions on the types of cargo capacity of aircraft.

It also allows passengers to travel to new destinations via another airline.  This creates convenience for tourists and investors coming to our country.  Our citizens can go to distant countries by direct flights.  They will be able to fly directly from their territory to a third country.  For example, a passenger from Ferghana must come to Tashkent to go to Tokyo.  When the “Open Skies” regime starts, passengers will use the service of an airline flying directly to Tokyo via Fergana. If there are several airlines on the same route, competition will naturally arise.  This gives the passenger a choice.  Prices may drop as services expand.  Airlines may recommend additional services along with offering a low fare.

Uzbekistan and Open Sky Policy

In international field, there is also a (military) agreement on “Open Skies”, the purpose of which is slightly different.  That is, the participants of this agreement determine the program of unarmed aerial surveillance flights over the entire territory.  Regardless of the size of the contract, it is designed to increase mutual understanding and confidence by providing a direct way for all parties to gather information about military forces and activities that matter to them.  The idea of ​​allowing countries to openly observe each other is to prevent misunderstandings (for example, convincing a potential adversary that their country does not want to go to war) and to limit the escalation of tensions.  It entered into force on January 1, 2002 and currently has 34 member states. Although Uzbekistan has not signed this agreement, our close neighbor Kyrgyzstan is a member of this agreement.  State agencies have not yet revealed why Uzbekistan did not join the “Open Skies” policy in the treaty for military purposes.

One of the first steps in Uzbekistan’s Open Skies Policy in civil aviation is the US-Uzbekistan air transport agreement on February 27, 1998. This agreement consists of 17 articles and three annexes. In addition, the Republic of Moldova (30.03.1995), Republic of Kyrgyzstan (04.09.1996), Georgia (28.05.1996), Azerbaijan (02.11.1996), Republic of Belarus (22.12.1994), Kazakhstan  Estonia (25.05.1994), Ukraine (20.02.1993), Turkey (23.06.1994), Slovakia (26.06.1997), Kingdom of Belgium (01.04.2003), Indonesia (06.10.1998), Republic of Poland (05.12.1995), signed an agreement with Israel (14.04.1996), France (26.04.1994), and the Arab Republic of Egypt (16.02.1994).  In general, the number of international agreements in this direction is 24.  In addition, in almost all of the agreements concluded above, it is noted that the principles and standards of the “Convention on International Civil Aviation” signed in Chicago on December 7, 1944 will be followed.

 When using the open sky for the first time, the countries will first make an agreement between themselves and several flights will be carried out as a test.  After that, diplomatic notes will be exchanged in the prescribed manner.  Currently, the number of countries that have implemented this policy at least once is 131.

So, what decisions are being implemented in this field in Uzbekistan? This is stated in the Decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan No. PF-5611 of January 5, 2019.

 ● conducting negotiations with foreign and domestic airlines, as well as considering their proposals and their correct distribution by airports;

 ● simplifying the charter flight agreement mechanism;

  ●introducing of the “Open Sky” regime at some airports in the country;

  ●revising the regulatory legal framework in order to support the establishment of domestic airlines;

 In addition, in order to increase the flow of foreign tourists coming to Uzbekistan by solving existing problems in the air transportation system, the President of Uzbekistan on August 13, 2019 “On measures to further develop the tourism sector in the Republic of Uzbekistan”  By the decree of October 1, it was established that the “Open Skies” regime will be introduced at the “Karshi”, “Nukus” and “Termiz” international airports using the fifth level of air freedom.

At the ministerial level, on June 12, 2020, the order of the Minister of Transport of the Republic of Uzbekistan on the introduction of the “Open Sky” regime at the airports of the Republic of Uzbekistan was signed.  Accordingly, the “Open Skies” regime will be valid from August 1, 2020 until the end of the IATA “Winter 2022/2023” season for two years with the possibility of extending it or changing the conditions: at the airports of Karshi, Nukus, Termiz, Bukhara, Navoi and Urganch, their  using the “fifth freedom of the air” right without any restrictions, taking into account its technical capabilities. At the airports of Andijan, Fergana, Namangan and Samarkand, taking into account their technical capabilities, without restrictions on the number of flights, with the right of “fifth freedom of air” on routes not used by designated carriers in the Republic of Uzbekistan; at the airports of Navoi and Termiz cities, taking into account their technical capabilities the right up to the “seventh freedom of air” was established to carry out cargo flights without any restrictions.

Does this Policy Limit the Rights of Our National Airline?

Other airlines that use the “Open Skies” regime do not hinder the activity of our national airline, on the contrary, they help it.  It was observed that the national airlines of the countries where this regime is implemented have developed more. For example, the successful experience of Israel shows that such competition ultimately benefits local airlines and the country as a whole.  For example, Ben Gurion Airport served 20 million people from 2013 to 2017 after the Open Skies regime began, and the airport was noted as the world’s leading airport. The introduction of this mode increased the airport’s reputation.  However, detailed reports on how much profit our national airline had made during this policy have not yet been published.


In this article, I analyzed the views on what open skies policy is and what kind of regime it is.  As a result, we learned about the importance of this policy in civil aviation and what international agreements our country has in this field.  First of all, we found out that Uzbekistan is still not participating in the Open Skies multilateral agreement. The reason is still unknown.  In addition, we got acquainted with information about the process of liberalization of this sector in our country and which airports have started working in this mode.  In a nutshell, we can be sure about one thing: this sector can further increase the economic potential of Uzbekistan.  

Cite as:  Shahriyor Abdubakiev, “Open Skies Policy and Uzbekistan: Legal Analysis”, Uzbekistan Law Blog, 18.10.2022.