The USA last week made an unexpected subtle shift in its position on foreign ownership of US airlines ahead of this month’s crucial open skies talks with the European Union. The US Department of Transportation buried a clause in its notice of proposed rulemaking for airline regulation that “clarifies” how it will interpret the circumstances influencing a determination of “actual control”. Observers interpret this as a signal that rules restricting foreign carriers to owning a 25% stake in any US airline are to be relaxed. The European Commission says it “welcomes” the move, but adds that it needs to look at more detail before offering any further comment. But many airlines have criticised the concession for not going far enough, with Virgin Atlantic dismissing it as a trick designed to “fool the EU into agreeing to an unbalanced deal”.

Source: Flight International