Dick Branson, A little frustrated?

Sun Mar 14, 1999 6:28 am

From Mr Richard Branson

Sir, I have been following the dispute between the US and the EU about bananas with interest (letters, March 5, 8 and 10). I cannot help comparing the US Government's claim to moral high ground in this case with its ap- parent determination to maintain the moral low ground in aviation matters.

The US has a policy of discrimi- nating against foreign airlines such as Virgin Atlantic in favour of its own carriers. The list includes the "fly America" policy, under which US civil servants or anyone with a US Gov- ernment contract is forced to use US airlines; restrictions on leasing aircraft to US carriers; attempts to ban gambling on foreign aircraft in inter- national airspace in contravention of international treaty.

This is against a background of repeated US protestations about the benefits of competition and criticisms of the UK for refusing to cave in and accept a new bilateral aviation agreement, which I believe is hopelessly biased towards US airlines.

The UK Government is absolutely right to resist US bullying tactics. Whether it is also right not to react to US discrimination against UK car- riers is more of a moot point. UK civil servants can use US airlines; the latter can bid for Ministry of Defence travel contracts; US aircraft are extensively leased to European companies. The loss of income for UK airlines is considerable.

Perhaps it is time the Government was more forceful regarding blatant discrimination against UK companies. The US authorities might then realise that they cannot preach the benefits of free trade only when it suits them.

Yours faithfully, Richard Branson (Chairman), Virgin Atlantic Airways 11 Holland Park, W11 3TH.

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RE: Dick Branson, A little frustrated?

Sun Mar 14, 1999 6:43 am

Whoa there! Branson is a little p'vd!

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RE: Dick Branson, A little frustrated?

Sun Mar 14, 1999 8:00 am

It's incredibly hypocritical for him to charge the US with "bullying" just weeks after the EU voted to practically eliminate the market for used American aircraft from Europe. That was a political crowbar if I have ever seen one. He calls for "free trade", but apparently neglects to realize that it should apply to the aircraft themselves, not just to the fares that they carry.


RE: Dick Branson, A little frustrated?

Sun Mar 14, 1999 8:31 am

I do think our friend Richard has a point though. And you too, BryanG, have a point. I think this new proposed noise legislation in Europe is a bit over the top.

RE: Dick Branson, A little frustrated?

Sun Mar 14, 1999 10:09 am

I think he will do it soon. Or just get the name over here!
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RE: Dick Branson, A little frustrated?

Tue Mar 16, 1999 2:35 pm

So why can you buy a BMW or a Jaguar in the USA, or an AIWA or SONY stereo, but you cannot buy a seat on a Virgin aircraft from one US city to another? Free trade is free trade, except when it doesn't conform to 'Corporative America'; the real power behind US politics. I don't support European barriers to free trade or any hypocrisy. However, if Virgin can destroy the US airlines' complacency and arrogance, then great, the consumer will really gain. If Virgin fly through the USA, surely it means more jobs and more choice for Americans. I support Dick Branson's innovation and drive and look forward to flying Virgin from one US city to another.