Friday, January 15, 2010

A Second Stage Deal in 2010?

According to a new story out today, the United States and European Union are hoping to finalize a second stage air transport agreement in the first half of 2010.  See Jay Boehmer, U.S., EU Seeking to Step Up Open Skies Talks, Bus. Traveller News, Jan. 14, 2010.  From the story:

The United States and European Union are accelerating second-stage Open Skies negotiations in the hopes of finalizing an agreement in the first half of the year, though a number of key issues including foreign ownership remains in dispute, the chief U.S. negotiator told BTN last month.

. . .

"We're hastening the pace of negotiations," Byerly said. "We've declared, including President Obama and his EU counterparts at the most recent EU-U.S. summit, the wish and hope that we will complete the second-stage negotiations and have an agreement in 2010."

Byerly said the two sides have made progress on a number of issues, including safety, air traffic control, security and the environment, but sticking points remain, including the issue of foreign ownership. The first-stage agreement, enacted in 2008, maintained limits on foreign control of U.S airlines.

The story goes on to discuss that while the U.S. is open to discussing its 25% ceiling on foreign ownership of its airlines, cabotage remains off the negotiating table.

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