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EU, U.S. start second-phase talks on 'open skies' agreement

Brussels (Thomson Financial) - The European Union said it has started negotiations with the U.S. for the second-phase of the 'open skies' air liberalisation agreement. The European Commission said a second-phase agreement "promises a new perspective" on how aviation is structured in the future by "potentially removing restrictions on the foreign ownership of airlines, exchanging access to domestic markets and introducing a more consensual approach to the regulation of the industry".

The second stage could lead to the removal of limits on services operated by carriers or investors within the other's market, the commission said. A EU-U.S. second phase agreement would encompass markets with a combined total of more than 1 billion airline passengers a year and more than 50 percent of global aviation traffic, the EU executive added. The first phase of the EU-U.S. 'open skies' accord was signed at the end of April 2007 and came into force at the end of March this year.