The US open skies machine continues its march around the globe, with the hope that Chile may become the 26th country to seal an agreement.

Although the text of the US-Chile open skies treaty has been agreed, the Chilean government is holding out until the American/LanChile alliance is approved before it agrees to implement the pact formally. The US Department of Transportation acknowledges that a request for approval has been filed by the two airlines, but points out that the procedure of gathering comments and replies will take 'some weeks' at least.

Meanwhile, a first round of open skies discussions was completed with the Peruvian Government in Lima last month and a second set of talks is set for March in Washington. Negotiators from the US reportedly proposed a three-year transitional package to phase in open skies, similar to the three-year transitional pact forged with the Czech Republic. The current US-Peruvian agreement expires in June 1998.

A first round of open skies talks has also been held with Romania, with more negotiations scheduled for early December in Bucharest. Again, the US hopes to use the Czech treaty as a phase-in model.

The long-running US-UK I talks continued through November, but without any tangible outcome. 'I don't think "no progress" accurately reflects what has been going on in those meetings, but it is going to take time. Right now, the playing field is in Brussels,' comments a Washington source. The lack of progress extends to Italy, which has asked for its open skies talks to be postponed until next year, possibly March.

Karen Walker

Source: Airline Business