Madrid, Washington in talks on flights deal

7th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

7 October 2004, MADRID - Spain and the United States are set to open talks on a bilateral accord for transatlantic flights, it was reported Thursday.

7 October 2004

MADRID - Spain and the United States are set to open talks on a bilateral accord for transatlantic flights, it was reported Thursday.

The deal would mean passengers could fly to the US from any major Spanish airport, instead of just three at present.

"No formal negotiations have been undertaken. There exist merely exploratory contacts regarding aeronautical cooperation," a Spanish foreign ministry spokesman said.

The Spanish financial daily Cinco Dias quoted US diplomatic sources as saying Madrid and Washington had already made preliminary contact with a view to meeting "at a technical level", possibly as early as next week.

Such an accord would, according to Cinco Dias, allow Spanish airlines to fly transatlantic routes out of any Spanish airport.

The paper added that Madrid had decided to pursue a bilateral accord in view of the slow progress on securing a so-called "open skies" agreement between all European Union states and the United States.

In July, EU Transport Commissioner Loyola de Palacio, a Spaniard, announced she was writing to five EU states who currently do not have bilateral air travel agreements with the United States explicitly asking them not to open negotiations at a bilateral level but rather respect joint obligations under EU laws.

The Barcelona-based daily La Vanguardia highlighted the "small number of destinations in the United States" currently served by Spanish airlines flying out of just three airports, the main one being Madrid-Barajas.

According to La Vanguardia, the European Commission is likely to come out against a Spanish-US acord if the benefits accruing to Spanish airlines do not apply to carriers in other EU states.

De Palacio, whose mandate expires on 31 October, said in July that she believed an open skies agreement would not materialise until after the US presidential election.

To date, the EU and Washington have been unable to reach an agreement on an "open skies" market which would supercede a series of existing bilateral accords between the United States and individual EU states.

The European Court of Justice in November 2002 ruled the existing arrangements restricted free competition by limiting traffic between the European Union and the United States to national carriers.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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