Vive Le Canada

'Open skies' hit by BA and Virgin
Date: Sunday, March 04 2007

'Open skies' hit by BA and Virgin

British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have criticised a new "open skies" deal between the European Union and US that aims to open up their airline markets.

British Airways said the deal was not good for UK aviation, while Virgin called it a missed opportunity.

On Friday and after years of failed talks, the EU and US said that they had made decisive progress and managed to get the outline of a new agreement.

The transatlantic airline market is worth some $18bn (9.3bn).

According to the EU, a new deal would boost transatlantic passenger numbers by 26 million, create 80,000 jobs, and provide 12bn euros (8.1bn) of economic benefits.

Fair balance?

The worry for many critics is that the deal favours US carriers, and that companies such as British Airways and Virgin would have to give up valuable prime-time landing and take-off slots at Heathrow airport.

British Airways said it would be looking to lobby on the issue and would put forward its point of view that the deal "is not good for UK aviation".

Steve Ridgway, the chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, said: "We would love to see full and proper open skies but this draft agreement doesn't come near that."

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Published: 2007/03/04 14:32:07 GMT

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