Sir Richard Branson, Chairman of Virgin Atlantic Airways, called today on the EU not to agree to any one sided deal which only benefits US carriers and not consumers as a whole in next week’s EU/US aviation talks:
“There’s a very real prospect of the EU and US finally achieving a historic and much needed Open Aviation Agreement but there’s still a danger that the US Government could secure a deal giving it all it wants with Europe getting little in return. For example, the US Government is asking for the right for American airlines to fly in to Heathrow and within Europe and yet it would 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.
“We don’t know what each side is planning to table next week but what we don’t want is an unbalanced deal giving the US all it wants with little more than empty promises in return. 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.”