Sergio Dionisio/AP

Change Comes Slowly for Open Skies Agreement

June 25, 2008 09:58 AM
by Josh Katz
The Open Skies agreement went into effect three months ago with the promise of improving international travel. But is the pact a success?

30-Second Summary

The Open Skies agreement changed the rules regarding international flights, loosening travel restrictions on American and European carriers. Before the accord, European carriers could only fly to the U.S. from their home country, and airports could only permit a limited number of foreign carriers. The Open Skies agreement was expected to boost competition, and maybe even drive down fares. 

Scott McCartney
writes in The Wall Street Journal, however, that the agreement, which was launched March 30, is off to a slow start. He writes that fares have increased, there has not been a substantial increase in flights, and also, that airlines may not want to infringe on other airline's hubs. High oil prices, too, might deter carriers from taking risks.

But some airlines are capitalizing on the agreement. British Airways created the OpenSkies Airline, a luxury 757 flying from Paris to New York. Air France-KLM SA has added a flight between London and Los Angeles.

"I think change will be more subtle. People want to get a feel for how the market is going," says Dale Moss, managing director of OpenSkies Airline. "I think everybody is being conservative right now."

Thanks to the agreement, more U.S. carriers are now conducting business at Heathrow, one of the busiest international airports. American Airlines and United had previously been the only two U.S. airlines permitted at Heathrow.

But Continental, Northwest and Delta are still trying to make greater inroads into Heathrow because Aer Lingus has been resistant to sell off its valuable slots at the airport, further hampering change.

Headline Link: ‘For Fliers, “Open Skies” Start Is Slow’

Background: Forging Open Skies

Related Topics: Heathrow’s importance; OpenSkies Airline

Opinion & Analysis: The expectations of Open Skies

Reference: Budget travel


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