WASHINGTON, DC – Business Travel Coalition today launched OpenSkies.travel, formed as a broad and growing coalition of global organizations to promote Open Skies policies and robust aviation competition. Open Skies agreements entered into between governments around the world are under attack by some U.S. and EU airlines that seek to block new competition. The aggressive campaign to block Norwegian Air International’s application to serve the U.S. is just one example. The benefits from these agreements are at significant risk.
“Over the course of two decades, many airlines used Open Skies policies to secure immunity from antitrust and competition laws for their global alliances while simultaneously insisting on industry consolidation through mergers and acquisitions,” stated OpenSkies.travel founder Kevin Mitchell. “Now that they have succeeded in their ambitions, some airlines want to perversely reinterpret or revise Open Skies agreements with a clear objective of frustrating foreign airline new entry and undermining the benefits to consumers, communities and economies around the world,” added Mitchell.
The Founding Members of OpenSkies.travel believe that a new level of vigilance is required to maintain the integrity of Open Skies agreements. If foreign carrier new entry is not assured in the U.S., then Open Skies agreements and 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 and tourist centers. New airline entry is among the very few remedies available to offset airline industry consolidation and protect consumers.
The objectives of OpenSkies.travel include (1) ensuring that there is a powerful, well-articulated and broadly supported public-policy position in support of global aviation marketplace liberalization; (2) guaranteeing that policymakers have sufficient global stakeholder support to encourage timely approval of airline applications for services in accordance with Open Skies agreements; and (3) educating the U.S. Congress, the EU Parliament and other legislatures on the benefits of Open Skies agreements and the emerging threats and opportunities with respect to airline competition, the airline consumer and local and regional economies.