LONDON (Virgin Atlantic) - Steve Ridgway, Chief Executive of Virgin Atlantic Airways, today encouraged the EU not to give in to the US in the forthcoming EU/US aviation talks:
“What the US Department of Transportation’s proposal on international investment in US airlines really means is not clear but it appears that they are trying to secure access to Heathrow for their airlines (in the forthcoming EU/US talks) while giving little or nothing in return. Their proposal would leave in place the fundamental restrictions on foreign companies investing in or controlling US airlines.
“This is a transparent device to fool the EU into agreeing to an imbalanced deal. For example, when EU/US talks resume soon the US Government will be asking for the right for American airlines to fly in to Heathrow and within Europe and yet it will continue to refuse to allow European airlines to fly within the United States.
“Virgin Atlantic believes in more competition but the only deal worth negotiating is a true Open Aviation Agreement which removes all the regulations which distort our industry. This would be a balanced deal giving both sides everything they want and leaving the consumer the winner, with more services and cheaper fares within a combined US and EU aviation area.
“In simple terms, the EU must not trade access to Heathrow – its most valuable asset – for anything less than a true Open Aviation Agreement. Each side has a number of cards in its hand but the EU holds the Ace and it should only play it to end the game.”
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