Talks between the USA and UK on an open skies deal, or mini-deal, are set to resume in June. However, neither side appears to have changed its negotiating stance much since the talks broke down at the beginning of the year.

The UK's Department of the Environment and the Regions (DETR) says "there was a much better feeling between the two sides" following a cooling-off period. UK Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott is reported to have taken the initiative in re-establishing contact with his US counterpart, Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater.

Slater hopes to have a "new liberalised aviation agreement" by the end of the year". However, he adds that UK demands for cabotage rights in the USA and relaxation of limits on foreign ownership of US carriers are "off the table" and dismisses the idea of anti-trust immunity for the British Airways-American Airlines alliance.

However, the two sides have agreed a mini-deal for London Gatwick, which sees the London-Pittsburgh route re-established, with US Airways the likely operator. British Airways and Virgin are vying for the US slot made available by this deal, with British Midland likely to stay in the wings, hoping for a London Heathrow slot from the talks later this year. The Gatwick slot is likely to go to arbitration.

Source: Airline Business