Brazil’s Senate approved an open skies agreement with the United States, a measure that should lead to more flights between the two countries and increased competition in their airline industries.

The bill passed in a symbolic vote and will become law following a few procedural steps. Its approval comes seven years after the Brazilian and U.S. governments signed a preliminary agreement.

“This deal benefits the whole of Brazilian society and is fundamental for the development of national aviation,” said Jerome Cadier, the CEO of Latam Airlines Brasil, in an emailed statement. American Airlines also said it welcomed the agreement.

Both U.S. and Brazilian airlines have been pushing for the legislation, which they argue will boost growth in air travel in both countries, offering passengers a wider choice of journeys, destinations and connections. Brazilian critics argue that the South American nation’s airlines stand to lose out, as they will struggle to compete with the major U.S. companies.

Senator Lindbergh Farias, from the Workers’ Party, voted against the deal.

“Brazilian companies’ capacity to compete with the North American firms is very small, so we could lose a lot of market share,” he said.

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Photo Credit: Airlines like Avianca Brasil could add flights to the United States under a new Open Skies agreement. Pictured is one of the airline's Airbus A320s. Renato Gizzi / Flickr