Virgin Atlantic Welcomes European `Open Skies` Decision

Sir Richard Branson, Chairman of Virgin Atlantic, today welcomed the European Court`s opinion that member states` so-called “open skies” agreements with the United States are illegal.

Sir Richard Branson, Chairman of Virgin Atlantic, said:

“This decision vindicates Virgin Atlantic`s consistent position over the last few years. We have always lobbied for true “open skies” but only if that means full liberalisation of all regulations governing air services within and between Europe and the US.

“Today`s decision presents an historic opportunity for Britain and the European Commission in partnership to negotiate a deal with the United States which would usher in a new era in aviation. Our vision of the future is a complete deregulation of everything from routes and airline access rights, all the way through to mergers and acquisitions. Such a vision would put the industry on an equal footing with other mature industries and bring in cheaper fares, a higher quality of service and a much more efficient industry.

“Among many benefits to consumers it would give the US carriers the right to fly within Europe and British carriers the right to fly within the US.
“I have written to Stephen Byers to encourage him to throw the UK Government`s weight behind the decision and to be a leading influence on the European Commission`s negotiations. The UK`s uniquely dynamic aviation sector stands to gain more than most in Europe from this historic decision.”