IATA blasts EU-US for stalling foreign ownership discussions

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IATA has expressed disappointment in the EU and USA concluding second stage open skies talks without a definitive conclusion on resolving foreign ownership issues.

Citing a preliminary agreement reached today in Brussels, the European Commission stated: "A process has been agreed towards the further expansion and consolidation of the transatlantic aviation market."

In offering its assessment of the conclusion of the talks IATA says while the new pact is not a step backwards, "it did not move us forward".

In an emailed statement to ATI, Flightglobal's premium news site, the US Department of State says the new agreement "contains no commitment to change existing statutes that reserve service in the US domestic aviation market to US airlines and limit foreign ownership and bar foreign control of US airlines".

A spokesman for the US Department of Transportation (DOT) says teh USA did not commit to changing foreign ownership limits because that requires Congressional action, and statutory changes cannot be made through negotiation.

DOT explains the new agreement affirms that terms of the first stage of the open skies deal remain in place indefinitely. Under the agreement that became effective in March 2008, all restrictions on transatlantic flights between the EU and USA were lifted.

DOT also states the latest agreement supplies greater protection for US carriers from local restrictions on night flights at European airports, and emphasises the need for close cooperation between the EU and US on environmental matters.