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bmi praises UK Government’s support of open skies deal

23rd March 2007 Print
bmi has praised the UK Government for supporting the draft EU-US open skies agreement in a key vote taken today by Douglas Alexander, Secretary of State for Transport at a meeting of the EU’s 27 Member States’ transport ministers in Brussels. A unanimous vote of support was achieved to take the agreement forward, meaning any EU airline can now serve any US destination from anywhere in the EU.

Nigel Turner, chief executive officer of bmi, said: “We applaud the UK Government for taking the interests of UK plc and the UK travelling public seriously and supporting the open skies agreement. This was a brave move in the face of stiff opposition from the two UK airlines that have for years enjoyed a protected transatlantic market from Heathrow.

“We will now see the long-overdue scrapping of the protectionist Bermuda II agreement that limits the number of airlines permitted to fly between Heathrow and the US to four, which was declared unlawful by the European Court of Justice in 2002. The stranglehold has finally been broken.

“Today is a landmark in the history of air links between Europe and the US and the agreement will be a a prelude to global liberalisation of air transport. Millions of travellers will benefit from additional competition, including lower fares and a greater choice of services. UK travellers alone could save up to £250 million a year, as identified by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

“This decision is a victory for the travelling public. bmi is now ideally placed to take advantage of this major breakthrough and turn into reality our long held ambition to commence services to the US from our main operational hub at Heathrow. This will have a major impact not only on point-to-point traffic to the US but on the network competition that bmi will be able to provide from our wide range of domestic, European and other longhaul services.”

bmi expects to announce shortly details of its first USA services from Heathrow.