Open skies deal “favours US”

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The European Union has backed a deal with the United States to liberalise transatlantic aviation from March next year.

It has taken four years of talks to come to an agreement but already there are complaints that it favours US airlines.

The plan seeks to allow more operators and greater competition, especially at London Heathrow where BA, Virgin, American Airlines and United Airlines dominate.

However, the scheme has come under fire from large operators who say that the deal does not go far enough and allow European operators to operate in the US domestic market.

Paul Charles of Virgin Atlantic, said: “It doesn’t enable full liberalisation, it doesn’t open up US markets so that European and British carriers can operate from one city to another.”

John O’Connell, trade services manager for BIFA said: “It would appear that the UK will (or has) voted against the proposal but is unlikely to win the day with most other EU countries backing the relaxation.

“Notwithstanding the argument that the US would not appear to be opening up its air space to the extent that the EU is, the upshot will be that more aircraft will be able to ply the North Atlantic that will result in more capacity (cargo and passenger) that is likely to cascade down to even more competitive rates & fares. So solely from this viewpoint our members and their customer base will have an even greater choice of carriers than at present at rates that are likely to become more competitive than ever.”

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