Air Transport World

Somewhat open skies.(air cargo transport regulation between the United States and Europe)

US cargo carrier access to Europe through a UK back door adds to European carriers' irritation on a completely different subject

The UK has upped the ante in the air cargo game between Europe and the US, with the Americans holding a hand they are reluctant to play.

In a recent "good faith" move, the British government authorized US cargo operators to fly fifth-freedom routes through Prestwick into more countries than specified in Bermuda 2. However, despite recent statements by US industry leaders in support of enhancing open skies for air cargo between the US and Europe, DOT still is linking UK cargo rights to passenger carrier issues.

But that is only part of the problem. While the issue of wet-leasing freighters out of Europe into the US is part of the play, the ultimate sticking point is the US/EU dispute over the definitions of cabotage and fifth freedoms.

The opening of Prestwick to US cargo carriers, with fifth-freedom rights, was the result of an application by FedEx to the UK for fifth-freedom service through both Prestwick and Stansted. In authorizing the service out of only one of the two airports requested, UK Minister for Transport Lord Macdonald said that Prestwick's emergence "as an economically important air cargo hub could be encouraged by granting US freight companies fifth-freedom rights there" while the UK continues to pursue a wider bilateral deal. The priority of the UK "is to get a fair deal for UK cargo carriers into the United States," Macdonald added. …

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