BRITISH CARGO CARRIERS WILL PETITION EC OVER U.S. RIGHTS
British cargo airlines, still steaming after the U.K. government granted
Federal Express the right to serve Europe from Scotland, said they will petition the
European Commission to force the U.S. to open its wet-lease cargo market to European
The move comes after the U.K. Parliament denied a request made by the
carriers to open an investigation into the process by which FedEx won the rights at
U.K. transport officials granted FedEx so-called "fifth-freedom"
rights, which allow the carrier to fly from the U.S., through the U.K., to other European
destinations. Governments often limit the fifth-freedom rights of foreign carriers to
protect markets for national airlines.
The British Cargo Airline Alliance, representing the four major U.K. cargo
airlines, said that the FedEx award is a "blatant political manipulation and an
attempt to buy Scottish votes."
British transportation officials have asked the U.S. to open new talks aimed
at liberalizing the U.S.-U.K. cargo markets. But the British carriers have likened their
government’s negotiating stance to that of a gambler who showed his cards before
sitting down at the table.
U.S. officials are evaluating the U.K. government’s proposal and no new
talks are scheduled, a U.S. Transportation Department spokesman said.
The BCAA says it has enlisted the support of some 20 cargo carriers in Europe
to help pressure the EC and European state government’s into action against the U.S.
Currently, U.S. airlines are not permitted to lease foreign aircraft,
although foreign airlines often lease aircraft from U.S. carriers, such as Atlas Air. The
BCAA estimates that the U.S. wet-lease market is worth $4 billion.
"If the British government is willing to give way on a fundamental case
of this kind, then we must seek protection from the European Commission," said
Christopher Foyle, chairman of Air Foyle and the BCAA.