View Full Version : US - France open skies agreement

Beaver Driver
14th Oct 2001, 05:56
Hey Guv. Still think the US is the block to open skies? Maybe you should look to your own house first.

October 12, 2001

<b>U.S., France May 'Open Skies,' Ending
Long-Sought Effort to Expand Markets</b>
By Daniel Michaels
Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal
The U.S. and France could agree on an "open skies" aviation treaty as soon as next week, putting further pressure on Britain to quickly liberalize its airline agreement with Washington as well.

Those U.S.-U.K. negotiations could move forward when the two sides meet in London on Oct. 22 for informational talks. The countries have been striving for many years to open up their markets to each others' airlines, but those efforts have foundered, mainly over disputes about U.S. airlines' access to London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports, which are near their capacity limits.

U.S. aviation officials will meet with their French counterparts in Paris next Thursday and Friday with the aim of ironing out final details on a new air treaty. The current 1998 U.S.-French agreement foresees full liberalization in 2003, but this summer French officials informed the U.S. that they want to accelerate that. The coming talks were originally slated for September, but were postponed following the terrorist hijackings on Sept. 11.

In July, the two sides met in Washington to review the current treaty and identify points that would need to be changed for an open skies treaty. Since then, they have made significant progress on adjusting those points and hope to finish that work next week.

The U.S. has open skies treaties with 53 countries around the world. The agreements allow airlines from these countries to fly to any airport in the U.S. they want, on the schedule they choose, and for U.S. carriers to do likewise in return. Traditional aviation treaties require extensive review for each new frequency or airport.

The immediate beneficiaries of an open skies deal between Paris and Washington would be Air France Group and Delta Air Lines , which are deepening cooperation through their SkyTeam alliance. On Aug. 15, they filed for U.S. antitrust immunity, which would allow them to coordinate operations and share information in ways that would otherwise be prohibited as collusion. The filing also included Alitalia and CSA Czech Airlines; Italy and the Czech Republic already have open skies treaties with the U.S. The U.S. only grants antitrust immunity to alliances with airlines from countries that have open skies treaties with Washington.

British Airways and AMR Corp.'s American Airlines recently applied for antitrust immunity from the U.S. and European Union as part of their oneworld alliance, as did bmi british midland and UAL Corp.'s United Airlines as part of the Star alliance. Those applications depend on a U.S.-U.K. open skies treaty, which remains far from assured.

The Oct. 22 talks in London will be similar to the French talks in Washington in July, allowing officials to review the current treaty and identify points that would need to be changed. The London meeting "is not a negotiating round and one should not expect a result," said one official involved in the talks.

Write to Daniel Michaels at [email protected]

14th Oct 2001, 08:06
I'll probably catch hell for saying this, but I don't think this is the subject he refers to when he is talking about US protectionisim so you probably owe him a bit of an apology for taking this opportunity to get some digs in.


The Guvnor
14th Oct 2001, 13:23
Indeed, Mert, my favourite bugbear is US protectionism! So, does this open skies agreement allow French carriers to provide US airlines with aircraft on an ACMI basis? Er, nope! Are US airlines allowed to provide French airlines with aircraft on an ACMI basis? Er, yep!

Not a level playing field, then, is it!

The US definition of Open Skies is basically this: "We fly wherever and whenever we feel like in your country and to points beyond; but apart from gateway destinations you're not allowed to fly anywhere in the US or to points beyond (except under specific, defined circumstances where we'll make sure that there are no US carriers that want to do those services); we'll also enforce the 'Fly America' rules which mean that our carriers get the lion's share of the business - but Heaven help you if you try something similar! - and finally, we'll enforce a whole load of regulations such as no inflight gaming, smoking etc designed so as to make sure that our airlines ar not at a competitive disadvantage. Welcome to American Open Skies!"

In any case, it's highly questionable whether or not France has the right to enter into such an agreement. Remember the EU has asserted that it, and only it, has rights over EU airspace - and in fact has taken a number of governments (including the UK) to court over this issue.