Air Transport World

Will the U.S. ever grant cabotage rights? (international air space law)

Will the U.S. ever grant cabotage rights?

"A cabotage deal with Europe smells.' Or so it seems to Matthew V. Scocozza, the Department of Transportation's outspoken assistant secretary for policy and international affairs, about an operating environment that, on its face, should be the next big step for a country that is supposed to believe in the free market.

Over the last year there has been a parade of visitors to Washington from the U.S.' major trading partners. They have used their visits as occasions to make public pleas for the U.S. to take the next big step in liberalizing international airline operations (ATW, 7/86). Their speeches have been met variously with skepticism or cynicism.

You can't blame the Canadians or Europeans for trying. For years the U.S. has advocated its free-market notions in many corners of the world. First there was the Carter administration, trading an array of U.S. gateways for what were called "soft rights,' for example, freer faresetting or more liberal handling arrangements for U.S. lines at foreign airports.

Reagan's moves

Next came the Reagan administration. Early in the regime, it dumped the politically embarrassing IATA show cause order in exchange for a "flexible' North Atlantic fare arrangement that was hailed by politicians, though not most analysts, as the first step toward wide-open rate-making.

Also, despite the Reagan administration's professed aversion to trading U.S. access for the dastardly "soft rights,' foreign airlines are rolling into the U.S. with ever-increasing access in exchange for just such non-route items.

The U.S. is the biggest single air market in the world: One million passengers daily, 40% of worldwide air passengers. The U.S. therefore finds it impossible to obtain traffic rights in a single country that match its own. As a result, DOT, despite highminded talk of traitorous behavior against the preceding administration, has assiduously signed some of the same types of deals as the Carterites. British airlines fly to 21 U.S. points, and Lufthansa, the German airline, to 12. One recent deal with West Germany involved that country's reducing bias in its Start reservations system, in return for permission to start serving Atlanta and Houston from Frankfurt. The U.S. was perfectly happy to bargain for country-of-origin fares, less reservations system bias, better ground handling facilities and change of gauge expansion in exchange for new U. …

Log in to your account to read this article – and millions more.