U.K. SAYS STILL READY TO MAKE AVIATION DEAL WITH U.S.
The British government said Monday that it is still ready to make a bilateral deal with the U.S. over the long-standing issue of the U.K./U.S. air services.
In a testimony due to be presented to the U.S. House of Representatives Aviation Sub-Committee today (Tuesday), the British government said that it is still committed to full liberalization of air services between the
U.K. and the U.S., “but only on a balanced basis that will provide equal opportunities for U.K. airlines as well as U.S. ones.”
British officials repeated their complaints that the U.S. “open skies” proposals would allow U.S. airlines access to the European domestic market but would deny U.K. airlines access to the U.S. domestic market. They also
said that U.S. laws prevent British airlines from “wet leasing” airplanes in the U.S.
The U.K. government said proposals on the British Airways/American Airlines alliance, a liberalized inward investment regime allowing U.K. airlines to buy a controlling interest in a U.S. carrier and a grant of cabotage, have not been accepted by the U.S. administration.
“The U.K. was nevertheless prepared to explore a mini-deal, which would have met certain aspirations on both sides,” a spokesman for the British government said. The U.K. said that it is still prepared to help restore direct services to London from Pittsburgh through a smaller deal, provided that the deal is balanced and that the U.S. government approves, for example, the British Airways/American Airlines and British Midland/United
U.S. airlines want greater access to landing and take-off slots at London’s Heathrow airport. Under the current regime, just two airlines from each country — British Airways, Virgin Atlantic Airways for the U.K. and
American Airlines and United Airlines for the U.S. — can fly U.S.-U.K. routes.
Last October, Bud Shuster, chairman of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, introduced legislation that would revoke the U.S. air rights of all British airlines if a new U.S.-U.K. aviation agreement is
not reached in a year.