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Open Skies under attack

The US Open Skies policy and resultant market liberalization agreements entered into with governments around the world are under attack by some airlines that seek to frustrate foreign carrier new entry. To maintain Open Skies and robust competition, the Business Travel Coalition (BTC) has launched OpenSkies.Travel and are seeking corporate, university and government travel managers, travel management companies and distributors, travel industry suppliers, consumer groups and travel organizations from around the world to join the coalition as signatories.

The aggressive campaign to block Norwegian Air International’s application to serve the U.S. from Ireland is just one example. The benefits from Open Skies agreements to consumers, communities and economies around the world are at significant risk. Consequently, the Business Travel Coalition (BTC) has formed OpenSkies.Travel as a broad coalition of global stakeholders to promote Open Skies policies and robust aviation competition. I invite you to join at no cost.

BACKGROUND

Over the course of more than two decades, many U.S. airlines have successfully used the federal government’s Open Skies policy to secure immunity from the antitrust laws for global alliances and metal-neutral joint ventures while simultaneously insisting on domestic US industry consolidation. Today, four airlines control some 80 percent of US seat capacity, compared with 11 carriers in 2005.

Some U.S. airlines, now that they have achieved their goals of immunized alliances and industry consolidation, want to perversely reinterpret US. Open Skies agreements with foreign governments with the clear goal of foreclosing on new foreign competition. The U.S. marketplace for air services has entered into a new and long-term phase where various carriers will seek to replace competition with protectionism, the antithesis of the free enterprise system.

A new level of vigilance is required to maintain Open Skies and robust competition. If foreign carrier new entry is not assured in the US, then Open Skies benefits would be at risk for all stakeholders around the world. Consumers would face higher fares, less choice, declining customer service, diminished innovation and restricted connectivity to important global business centres. New airline entry is among the very few remedies available to offset radical consolidation and to protect consumers.

COALITION FORMED

BTC has formed OpenSkies.Travel to bring significant organization to the task of maintaining aviation liberalization agreements in accordance with the intent of the signatories to such accords.

Coalition members will include corporate, university and government travel managers, travel management companies and distributors, travel industry suppliers, consumer groups and travel organizations from around the world.

MISSION AND OBJECTIVES

The mission of OpenSkies.Travel is to advocate Open Skies policies and promote robust aviation competition. The objectives are to:

1) ensure that there is a powerful, well-articulated and broadly supported public-policy position in support of U.S. and global aviation marketplace liberalization and associated benefits;

2) guarantee that the US Department of Transportation has sufficient US and global stakeholder support to encourage timely approval of airline applications for services to the U.S. in accordance with Open Skies agreements; and

3) educate the US Congress on the benefits of Open Skies agreements and the emerging threats and opportunities with respect to airline competition, the airline consumer and the economy.

STRATEGY

Leverage BTC’s 20-year track record of advocating increased airline competition and liberalization of aviation markets as well as its global relationships and credibility with press, government and industry to form a broad and active coalition of stakeholders to accelerate the benefits of Open Skies agreements.

MEMBERSHIP BENEFITS AND OBLIGATIONS

BENEFITS. By lending your name to this long-term initiative you will be helping ensure open and competitive aviation markets. BTC will keep you informed through a monthly newsletter about a public-policy priority of strategic importance to your organization and to your country. You will join and interact with a global community passionate about the benefits of aviation marketplace liberalization.

OBLIGATIONS. From time to time BTC will ask that you consider joining signatory letters petitioning governments to be steadfast in adhering to the requirements and commitments contained within Open Skies agreements.

Likewise your input will be sought on these agreements and related matters through surveys and petitions. Finally, you are asked to help spread the word about OpenSkies.Travel with your colleagues in the industry and help build momentum behind this important movement.

TO JOIN

Visit http://btcnews.co/1s1cA3r to join OpenSkies.Travel.