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Thu, Oct 16, 2008

OpenSkies Takes Flight On Inaugural Trip From Amsterdam To New York

British Airways Subsidiary Launches Second Route

British Airways' grand experiment to take advantage of the 19-month-old "Open Skies" agreement between the United States and the European Union has launched its second route. OpenSkies -- the airline -- launched new service Wednesday between New York's John F. Kennedy Airport and Amsterdam's Schiphol International Airport.

"Almost 400 years after Henry Hudson left Europe to cross the Atlantic and set the stage for what would become 'New Amsterdam', we are thrilled to launch the newest link between Amsterdam and New York," said Dale Moss, managing director of OpenSkies. "At a time when tough economic circumstances are making travel more difficult on both sides of the Atlantic, we believe OpenSkies presents a compelling value proposition by combining great prices and a premium product. We look forward to introducing the OpenSkies experience to customers flying the New York - Amsterdam route."

OpenSkies held a ribbon cutting ceremony at Amsterdam's Schiphol International Airport Wednesday morning to celebrate the inaugural flight. Following a reception along with remarks by Dale Moss, media and special guests were invited to view the first flight take off.

The United States and European Union agreed on the first phase of open skies legislation in March 2007, opening lucrative European routes to US airlines.

As written, the agreement is valid for two years; a second phase of the treaty will be voted on in 2010. That plan includes one of the more contentious sticking points in the Open Skies debate -- easing US regulations on foreign ownership of domestic airlines. Should all parties not agree to that second phase, the skies would be "closed" once more.

As ANN reported, British Airways launched OpenSkies in January 2008, to capitalize on the landmark US/EU agreement... that BA had vehemently opposed, as it reduced the airline's monopoly on gates at London Heathrow. OpenSkies began daily flights between New York-JFK and Paris-Orly in June, using a Boeing 757 taken from BA's mainline fleet. The jets are configured with 64-passenger business-class seating.

Incidentally, the first route launched by a European airline intended to take full advantage of Open Skies legislation -- Air France's nonstop service between Los Angeles and London Heathrow -- will end November 6, about seven months after it began. Other airlines have also trimmed back their more ambitious open-skies plans, due to the current economic crisis.

FMI: www.flyopenskies.com

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