Today and tomorrow, negotiators from the EU Commission and the US DOT will meet to discuss a way forward on Open Skies (or I should say, have met today and will meet tomorrow!)
Here's a snippet from a UK paper and if you look past the title, it's actually quite a good article.
What is the general feeling here and what are the predictions going forward?
To my mind - and you'll understand that I'm from a country whose airline has absolutely no interest in buying into US carriers, I think that the removal of the US airline ownership issue actually simplifies things immensely. True, we still have the LHR issue and the UK will probably want a quid quo pro, but will the UK be sufficient, on its own, to block any deal? I don't think so; there is qualified majority voting.
Now, the EU member states could, of course, sulk at the gross unfairness (yeah, right) of not being allowed to invest in US carriers, but where would that get them. The thing is that what is now on the table is what they should have been going for all along: the right of any EU airline to fly from any point in the EU to any point in the US. That's now available; if common sense wins through, it would mean that airlines could now plan on the basis of Open Skies going forward. Sure, special arrangements would have to be made for LHR, but does that REALLY need to hold everyone else up?
The EU could seek a quid quo pro, for example, restricting fifth freedom rights for cargo airlines, but what exactly would that achieve? It could also reduce the limits of ownership for US airlines buying into EU carriers, but if that meant scuppering the deal, would it be worthwhile? Again, doubtful.
The thing that really worries me, however, is that the Commission could dig its heels in on the whole emissions thing and that could really scupper a deal.
Maybe what is needed is an acceptance that even though what's on the table is not exactly what the EU wanted, you rarely get 100% of what you want in negotiations. What is on the table is what the EU should have been seeking all along and if they refuse this deal now, is it likely that the passage of time will lead to the EU getting what it wants in two, four or six years' time? Very unlikely. So, in other words, they should go for it.
Will they? Well, I hope so, but I have my doubts.
And what if they don't? What about Ireland and other countries severely disadvantaged under the current system? Will the Commission stop Ireland from moving ahead with a separate deal (one which includes a community air clause?), given that it was in favour of the deal and other countries scuppered it? Hopefully, some provision will be made for countries which want a deal tomorrow, but which were thwarted by other (larger) countries.
Thoughts (apart from "you need to get out more"!)?