LABOUR’S OPEN SKIES DEAL IS ALL ‘SMOKE AND MIRRORS’ SAY CONSERVATIVES

EU-US agreement on airport landing rights is a heavy blow for British airlines

Brussels, 22 March 2007 — The open skies deal Douglas Alexander MP, Labour Transport Secretary, has signed up to this afternoon is a smokescreen compromise which is bad for British airlines, says Sir Robert Atkins MEP, Conservative Deputy Leader in the European Parliament.

“Douglas Alexander has failed to maintain the UK’s advantages on transatlantic flights. Under the smokescreen of a six month delay he has sold out the British national interest.

“What is on the table now will give US companies a substantial share in our unregulated market, while EU companies will be left to fight for the scraps of the US regulated market. Labour should be fighting for reciprocal agreements on ownership rights. In the current deal, US interests can own up to 49% of the voting stock of an EU airline, whereas EU interests can only own up to 25% voting stock of a US airline. Is this fair and open? In a word, No.

“What we are calling for on this matter is action, not more dialogue. The Commission has championed the fact that the two sides have agreed to go back to the table in three months, but there are no firm commitments from the US to take action on this issue.

“In short, we are against this agreement, as it does not provide an open and fair market.

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