'Just a first step', says the airline body, but a more balanced one
(March 2, 2007) -- The Association of European Airlines, representing Europe's major carriers, has welcomed today's announcement that EU and US negotiators have reached an accord on a wide-ranging agreement covering air services within and between Europe and the USA.
"We still have to review the small print", said AEA Secretary General Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus. "Bearing in mind that this is the eleventh round of these talks, it is clear how delicate the negotiating process has been. Some fairly fundamental issues needed to be resolved".
These included the inequality of opportunities for European airlines to invest in their US counterparts, and access to the heavily-protected market for US Government-related travel. "On both these issues there has been substantial movement in the US position", said Mr Schulte-Strathaus. "Precisely what opportunities will open up will be revealed in our expert analysis. Our initial reaction is that there seems to be a substantially-improved balance in the wording of the agreement".
The agreement still had to be presented to the US Congress as well as the EU Transport Council.
Importantly, the two sides had agreed to proceed to a second stage in the negotiations. "AEA has always maintained that huge potential benefits, for airlines and passengers alike, can be realised through the eventual establishment of a genuine single market encompassing Europe, the US and the transatlantic routes in between", said Mr Schulte-Strathaus.
"If the benefits can be confirmed and quantified by further analysis, and the agreement supported by Council, today's agreement will be seen as a historic step in redefining international relations in air transport; nevertheless, it is just a first step".