All 27 European transport ministers have unanimously agreed to liberalise the trans-Atlantic aviation market, opening it up to greater competition. They had gathered in Brussels to finalise a landmark Open Skies accord with the US, which has been four years in the making.
It will allow EU planes to operate direct routes to the US from any European airport, not just from their own countries as it stands now. And there will be more flights across the Atlantic. British Airways has been most vocal in opposing the plan, fearful that its dominance at Heathrow in London will be diluted.
Other airlines are eyeing with enthusiasm the possibility of a piece of the action at one of the world’s busiest airports. The European Commission believes that under Open Skies, there will be 25 million more passengers, 80.000 new jobs, and lower fares for millions of trans-Atlantic travellers through more competition.