The first phase of the open skies agreement, due to begin in March 2008, allows European airlines to fly from any airport in Europe to transatlantic destinations: Virgin Atlantic could operate a route between Frankfurt and Washington DC, or Alitalia one from Heathrow to New York.

The European Commission believes the deal will increase the number of transatlantic airline passengers by 50% to 75 million over the next five years, as well as making the European airline industry more competitive and reducing ticket prices.

Source: Flight International