News! News! News? Open Skies Reveal No Details

Well, maybe there’s news and maybe there’s not. It’s hard to tell when stories come across the wire screaming ‘breakthrough’ and ‘landmark’ but have no details. That’s just what happened the other morning when stories from Brussels – long, fully developed stories, not news flashes – popped up saying that the US and the EC had broken through objections and signed a landmark open skies deal. No details. As they day wore on, few details emerged, and the reactions that came were ‘sounds-like reax’. (As in “it sounds like it’s OK”).

Giovanni Bisignani of IATA said it sounded OK but he’d like to see details,, while Jim May of the Air Transport Association said it sounded good and he looked forward to “developing a more complete understanding of what is envisioned”. Association of European Airlines Secretary General Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus was more blunt: “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”.

When you get reax like that, you know that no one knows what’s going on. A few details have emerged but even they are far from detailed; while Fifth and Seventh Freedom rights are involved, the thorny issue of foreign investment in US airlines, the issue that scuttled the last breakthrough landmark deal, remains largely open and to be resolved, as best we can tell.

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