David Knibb/SEATTLE

Washington is offering almost any foreign airline the right to serve the USA without regard to existing bilateral rights so long as that airline will stop in Alaska.

Foreign carriers serving the USA may add Alaska as a co-terminal point on existing US routes or launch turnaround flights from their own country to Alaska. This offer does not include fifth freedoms beyond Alaska to third countries.

The US Department of Transportation (DoT) also has invited any foreign airline to apply for new routes to any point in the USA, so long as those routes include Alaska. Such routes need not be specified in a current bilateral. Thus, any Asian or European airline could add flights to Los Angeles, for example, so long as they included a scheduled Alaska stop.

The DoT's offer extends to the airlines of any country except the UK. That exclusion is apparently due to Washington's impatience with the pace of negotiations over a liberalised UK-US bilateral.

The DoT plan took effect in May following four months of comment and review. It is designed to boost Alaska's international service, which has suffered after the introduction of extended-range jets that no longer need an Anchorage or Fairbanks stop to refuel.

Hawaii asked for a similar policy as Alaska, but the DoT refused, explaining that "important differences" between Alaska and Hawaii justified different treatment.

This is the first time since the DoT's "Cities Program" of the early 1990s that Washington has offered extra-bilateral rights in an effort to stimulate new international routes.

Source: Airline Business