British Midland is trying to preempt possible regulation of codeshare agreements by the European Commission with a proposal to produce its own code of conduct in consultation with its seven codeshare partners.

Speaking at an Airline Business conference in London, the UK independent's managing director Austin Reid said the industry needed to ensure its own house was in order to avoid legislators imposing restrictions on codeshare arrangements.

The debate may uncover complaints against such agreements, but Reid said that if the airlines themselves are seen to be acting on this, it would lessen any adverse publicity. 'There is a danger that the negative aspects rise to the surface and the Commission asks "Is it in the customers' interest due to the practical difficulties?" But with the will of the industry these should be solved.'

Reid stressed all codesharing deals must be 'defendable on grounds of competition' and all agreements should be transparent at all levels. CRS screens should identify both carriers and the details of each carrier should appear on the passenger's itinerary. Airline staff should also be fully informed.

Reid will send the document to the EC and hopes other groups like the Association for European Airlines would also enter the discussion. Frederik Sorensen, director of transport at the European Commission said at the same conference that the code of conduct was in keeping with the Commission's position. And a source at the US Department of Transportation confirms the objectives are similar to those in proposed regulations due to be published in April.

Source: Airline Business