U.K. AUTHORITIES OFFER OPEN SKIES PLAN
British aviation authorities have proposed a plan to liberalize the
U.S.-U.K. aviation market that addresses all-cargo rights, a spokesman for the U.S.
Transportation Department said.
The proposal was floated at a meeting in London last month. Beyond cargo
liberalization, U.K. officials also proposed to open some take-off and landing slots for
U.S. carriers at London’s Heathrow Airport, which would be a key breakthrough in talks
that have stalled for more than three years.
No agreement has been signed. U.K. authorities indicated they may want to
"open cargo before going into passenger liberalization," the DOT spokesman said.
The DOT said U.K. officials backed out of meetings this week, and no new
formal negotiations are scheduled. Informal talks are expected to take place at an
aviation meeting sponsored by the DOT in Chicago next week.
U.S. officials are demanding that any deal include direct
Pittsburgh-to-London route rights for a U.S. carrier, since British Airways pulled out of
Pittsburgh this summer. Any pact must also include a commitment from the United Kingdom
that it will pursue "open skies," or total liberalization.
U.K. cargo carriers began pressuring their government to sign a cargo
deal with the United States after Federal Express won U.K. approval this summer to serve
points in Europe from Scotland. U.K. carriers say U.S. airlines enjoy rights in Britain,
such as wet-leasing, they do not have in the United States.
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