EU-US Open Skies

By | August 22, 2006
Open Skies is a treaty between two countries that allows any carrier to fly between any city in one country to any city in the other, subject to local regulatory approval. In this case, a hotly debated issue is a Open Skies between the United States and the European Union. It is also known as a “Fly Anywhere” Agreement.
The British Airport Authority, who owns and operates many airports in the United Kingdom, insists in this article that they could not handle the additional volume caused by “Open Skies.”
A BAA Spokesman commented, “There are 30 Gatwick-US flights every day. They will want to come to Heathrow.” They physically do not have the capacity to keep up with increased demand. However, an open skies agreement does not mean that there will be additional slots. Currently, slots are London Heathrow are scarce, and the BAA could clamp down on them further to ensure that Heathrow isn’t overloaded during the peak US early morning arrival hours.
With the two new business-only carriers, Eos Airlines and Maxjet, operating from New York to London Stansted, this could mean a push to build up service to London’s other airports. So far, despite the possibility of connections to European low-cost carriers like Ryanair and Easyjet at London Stansted and London Luton airports, these airports have yet to attract transtlantic service(the former two business-class only carriers excepted).
On the homefront, low-cost airline Virgin America, part of the Virgin group of airlines, has been halted in permission to operate service. The objection, led by U.S. legacy carriers, challenges that Virgin America is not a U.S.-owned and controlled airline. More information on this is available at Business Travel News Online.
This is also the main sticking point in the EU-US negotiations. As reported by the Internation Herald Tribune here, the issue is foreign ownership of U.S. carriers. After last year’s issue with foreign ownership of U.S. ports caused such a public outcry, Congress is quite naturally reluctant to relax this restriction without a clear method of protecting U.S. security.
Author: Guru

Guru is the Editor of Flight Wisdom and a long time aviation enthusiast.