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Reader feedback: Need to look again

Re: Brussels warns Slovakia over aviation treaty with US, Volume 11, Number 11, March 21 - March 27, 2005

This whole thing started as a conflict basically between the US and the UK.

The EU wants to negotiate as a single state for the purposes of the 1944 airlines agreement and not have each state negotiate bilateral agreements with the US. Either that or they want each state in the US to be treated as sovereign so that, for example, British Airways [BA] could fly from Heathrow to New York, pick up and discharge passengers, then fly to Los Angeles.

A lot of attention was focussed on this a couple of years ago when KLM was considering a merger with BA. The Netherlands had negotiated an open skies agreement with the US that liberalized landing rights; the UK had not. The US air carriers feared that BA would use the merger to piggyback onto KLM's landing rights, especially in New York.

Most of these treaties are, in my view, anachronistic, and probably need a new look.

One cannot currently fly from Slovakia non-stop to the US. However, I suspect that is where the negotiations were headed. The way the law is now, Slovak Airlines could fly from Bratislava to London, pick up and discharge passengers, then fly to New York. The EU views that as unfair competition for UK carriers.

Roger Coldiron, London/Bratislava

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