Biggest beneficiaries of EU-US Open Skies are the US integrators

On the surface, the proposed Open Skies deal between the EuropeanUnion and the United States, which was approved unanimously by Europe’stransport ministers last month, looks like a tremendous agreement withimmediate benefits for almost all parties concerned. The pact, agreed after four years of talks, will allow any EU airline tofly from any city in the […]


On the surface, the proposed Open Skies deal between the EuropeanUnion and the United States, which was approved unanimously by Europe’stransport ministers last month, looks like a tremendous agreement withimmediate benefits for almost all parties concerned.

The pact, agreed after four years of talks, will allow any EU airline tofly from any city in the 27-nation bloc to any city in the United States andvice versa.

The treaty will also facilitate EU airline consolidation by allowing airlinesto merge without the risk of jeopardising routes they have or are planningto the US.

Most importantly, and in part the urgent need for the deal, is that theEU-wide treaty with the US will replace existing national bilateral treaties,which were declared illegal by the European Court of Justice in 2002. Allthat looks like a perfect win-win situation for every airline and countryconcerned.

Opponents, however, disagree.

The reason is that the rights of European airlines to own American carriershave not changed, nor will their rights to operate revenue-earningflights between American cities. No wonder then that BA chairman MartinBroughton has dismissed the deal as “a con trick”.

Although there should be serious doubts whether investments in UScarriers at this stage would make much sense, the BA chairman wants Europeanairlines to be allowed to buy and control American carriers, insteadof being restricted to 25 percent of the voting shares. He also insists thatEuropean carriers should be allowed to pick up passengers in one US cityand fl y them to another destination in the US.