29th March, 2007
Late last week, the UK signed up to an historic contract between the EU and the US. Known as the EU Open Skies deal, it lifts restrictions on the number of airlines which can operate transatlantic flights from Europe to the US. John Stewart, the Chair of the charity AirportWatch, explains why this is a deal from a bygone age with an horrific cost for the planet...
The new ‘Open Skies’ agreement between the EU and America could double the number of passengers flying the Atlantic. According to the Brussels-based environmental group, Transport & the Environment, this would mean an extra 3.5 million tonnes of CO2 being emitted every year.
The agreement has liberalised transatlantic air travel. Until now it has been tightly regulated with only a few airlines permitted to operate agreed routes to and from a small number of airports. The new agreement, due to come into force in Spring 2008, would potentially allow any EU-based airline to fly from any city within the EU to any city within the US, and vice-versa.
One of the losers will be British Airways. It has relied heavily on its protected transatlantic routes out of Heathrow. Now other airlines will be permitted to challenge its dominance. The result of this competition is that transatlantic fares will fall. We may even see RyanAir and easyJet dashing across the Atlantic.
The agreement was hailed by EU officials, UK Government ministers and industry figures as an important breakthrough. As is normal on these occasions, they produced sky-high figures about what it would mean for the economy, without...
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