New Trans-Atlantic Routes Open, Airfares May Drop

March 27, 2008 09:13 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
As of March 30, U.S. and European carriers will have greater route flexibility, leading to more competition and possibly lower fares.

30-Second Summary

Once the open skies agreement becomes effective, U.S. and European carriers can route trans-Atlantic flights to take off from any airport on either side of the ocean. Currently, airline planes must depart from their home country when flying across the Atlantic, and there are limits on the number of foreign carriers allowed to serve any given airport.

For example, American Airlines and United used to be the only two U.S. airlines allowed to fly at Heathrow. Now European carriers are leasing their gate space at London’s largest airport to Continental, Northwest and Delta.

The subsequent competition could drive down airfares, at least for a couple of months. The San Jose Mercury News writes, “If you plan to fly to Europe in April or May, you’ll find some decent prices. But summer fares so far are running more than $1,200 round trip from the Bay Area’s three airports to London and more than $1,400 to Paris or Rome.”

U.S. airports that previously had direct flights to just a few European destinations are celebrating. Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, the hub of American Airlines, plans to hire bagpipers and Dutch-style clog dancers to celebrate new direct service to London and Amsterdam.

But while it may mean cheaper fares on either side of the Atlantic, the weak dollar means that these bargains are more likely to appeal to European than U.S. travelers.

Caitlin Wall at Foreign Policy magazine offers a few words of comfort for Americans who can no longer afford a trans-Atlantic vacation: “I may have lost Paris, but they’re only gaining Detroit.”

Headline Link: ‘Getting to Europe Is About to Get Easier’

Reactions: ‘A terrific step forward’

Opinion & Analysis: More choices at similar prices

Reference: Finding cheap airfares and airline reviews

Related Topic: ‘A Revolution in the Skies ... a Disaster for the Planet’

Video: 'Global Coverage: Open Skies Policy'


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