Tue, Jun 03, 2003
Delivering the keynote address to the IATA
convention that opened Monday in D.C., Secretary of Transportation
Norm Mineta presaged some of IATA Director General and CEO Giovanni
Bisignani's ideas, outlined (elsewhere in ANN today) in what the
organization is calling the "Washington Declaration."
More competition can be a good thing.
Mineta (right) said early, "In recent years, many of the
world's long standing and restrictive bilateral agreements have
been replaced by more liberal open skies agreements. This
liberalization has been successful because it produces public
benefits that are simply not possible under restrictive
regulations. Liberalization provides airlines with the
opportunities and incentives to become more efficient. It
provides airlines with new business opportunities while strengthen
existing operations. This freedom to grow and compete should be at
the heart of every aviation agreement worldwide."
Maybe we need a new way to run things...
"While bilateralism opened markets in the 20th century, the 21st
century requires a new model," Mineta continued. "In order to
further expand aviation markets, we need a broader, multilateral or
regional framework that replaces the current patchwork of aviation
agreements. I encourage you to join us in crafting a vision
for what is possible in global air transportation." There is no
way, he seemed to be saying, that he would let market conditions
simply find a solution; government must be the answer.
How about getting more money into US airlines?
Aware of how badly US airlines, in particular,
have been hit by the increasing cost of compliance with expensive
"safety" regulations, he thought that foreign investors might like
to send more money this way; American investors seem to
be all tapped out, and wary of the current premium-airline
He noted, "The U.S. Department of Transportation recently
submitted to the Congress a request for consideration of a proposal
to grant U.S. airlines greater access to foreign capital
markets. The request raises the permissible level of foreign
ownership of voting stock in U.S. airlines to 49 percent, provided
that effective control remains in U.S. hands. This change
would make U.S. law broadly consistent with the EU rules governing
ownership and control of EU member-state airlines."
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