The European Commission has confirmed it intends to hold technical talks with the US Department of Transportation in September ahead of a full-scale resumption of open-skies negotiations in the last quarter of this year, writes Justin Wastnage.

The negotiations on bilateral air-service agreements between the European Union and the USA fell apart in June last year before the US presidential elections and a change in EC top personnel. Flight International has learned that large European airlines are pushing the EC to resume full discussions, as several mergers and takeovers are on hold due to nationality clauses in the current bilaterals the USA holds with each EU member state.

The EC says no date has been set for full talks with the US side, but a Commission source says they need to be “the sooner the better” to satisfy airline demands, hinting that Washington is stalling early resumption.

Meanwhile, the EC signed a further four horizontal open skies deals late last week, in its bid to tie up large parts of the rest of the world to bolster its case in talks with the USA. Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia and Serbia-Montenegro join Australia, New Zealand and several African countries in recognising the concept of an EU carrier rather than national airlines.

Horizontal aviation agreements do not replace bilateral agreements, but they do remove discriminatory provisions that do not allow EU airlines to fly to third countries from an EU country other than their country of origin.

National designation clauses have been illegal since a European Court of Justice decision in November 2002.

Source: Flight International