bmi today noted that the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has not found that the European Community currently has the competence to negotiate bilateral air service agreements with third countries. It has however declared that certain limited aspects of existing agreements do fall within its competence (namely pricing on intra community routes and commitments with regard to computer reservations systems (CRS). In addition the ECJ has ruled that nationality clauses in existing bilateral air service agreements between European Union (EU) member states and third countries violate the European Community principle of the right of establishment.
Tim Bye, bmi`s general counsel and director responsible for Government Affairs said:
“This judgement in no sense prevents member states from continuing to negotiate bilateral agreements with third countries and bmi expects the United Kingdom government to continue to press for liberalisation of the UK/US air services agreement which ranks amongst the most restrictive in world aviation. Claims that the judgement spells the end of any further bilateral negotiations with third countries are simply wishful thinking by those who wish to preserve the status quo for as long as possible.”