Europe Pumps its Pecs in Readiness for US ‘Open Skies’ Talks

09 June 2003

Talks are poised to begin between representatives of the European Union and the US Department of Transportation. These will focus on a new ‘open skies’ airline agreement to replace the bi-lateral deals extant between the US and eleven individual European member states.

A US-EC deal reached on the basis of equal negotiating muscle could lead to a sea-change in transatlantic airline marketing and advertising - along with a concomitant reconfiguration of individual agency responsibilities.

Although both sides will be reluctant to concede any key national interests, the ideal agreement would see every American and EU airline flying wherever it chooses on either side of the Atlantic, requiring no additional official consent over routes, fares or flight frequency.

Until now the US has used its dominant negotiating power to 'cherry-pick' eleven of the fifteen EU nations one by one – only four including the UK holding out for a better deal.

But last week in Luxembourg the EU’s fifteen transportation ministers delegated their respective negotiating powers to executive body, the European Commission. US officials were not taken by surprise. “We're ready to go” said deputy assistant secretary for transportation affairs at the State Department John Byerly.

Officials on both sides played it cool, warning that the talks could be tough with little likelihood that airlines will see any tangible benefits inside of a year.

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff