Published: 31 Mar 2008：As the Open Skies agreement between the United States and the European Union goes into effect, Air travel to Europe is about to undergo a significant change, one that is likely to spell more choices and cheaper fares for travelers.
According to New York Times News Service, with the open-skies agreement, restrictions getting lifted, essentially letting the open market dictate all trans-Atlantic routes between the United States and Europe. For instance, Continental, Delta and Northwest will be able to serve Heathrow for the first time. This year, San Francisco, Orlando and Washington all received their first scheduled non-stop flights to Dublin on Aer Lingus under a related transitionary arrangement.
Under the new accord, European and American airlines will be allowed to fly between anywhere in Europe and the US. Previously, certain airlines, such as British Airways, had some exclusive routes like its longstanding flight between the US and London Heathrow. But US Airways began flying Saturday between Philadelphia and Heathrow.
OpenSkies Airline, launched by British Airways, is the first carrier created as a result of the treaty and will fly nonstop from Paris to New York. US airlines will also be able to fly between European cities. Delta, Northwest, Continental and Air France have launched new routes, particularly from April-June.
"The new pact is expected to be game-changing for Europe-bound travel. More routes are expected to open, and prices could fall thanks to the new competition. The agreement is also likely to encourage European carriers to compete more aggressively with one another across the Continent. Lufthansa, the German airline, for example, could set up a hub in Paris; or Air France could set up a hub in Frankfurt," reported New York Times News Service.
Northwest plans to add daily service later this year to Heathrow from Detroit, Minneapolis and Seattle. Beginning on March 29, the New York area will get four new flights a day to Heathrow: two from Continental out of Newark and two from Delta out of Kennedy Airport. Travelers in Atlanta will have a new direct flight to Heathrow aboard Delta (as opposed to connecting through Chicago or some other city), as will travelers out of Dallas-Ft. Worth and Raleigh-Durham — both aboard American starting today.