Air Transport World

'A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma': Churchill's description of the U.S.S.R. also is applicable to its former satellites. (economic opportunities for Western corporations)

Churchill's description of the U.S.S.R. also is applicable to its former satellites; for cooperation with the West to succeed, the 'riddle' must be solved.

Budapest--the single biggest challenge facing Western companies that hope to benefit from the ongoing political and economic upheaval in Eastern Europe and the U.S.S.R. is separating fact from fiction, reality from myth. That the former leaders of the East Bloc countries lied to their own people and to the West about virtually every aspect of their postwar economic "transformation" should be clear to all by now. But beyond that, much of the economic development is illusory because it is the result of 40 years of rigid political, social and economic control that has little relevance to a noncommunist future.

For example, historic trends in air travel in the region cannot be used to predict future potential, according to Marek Sidor, commercial director of LOT Polish Airlines. Speaking at the recent Aviation Finance and Trading with Eastern Europe conference sponsored by Commercial Aviation Report, Malev Hungarian Airlines and ATW, he candidly noted that, "the traffic potential between the countries of the region has been artificially high, because fares are far too low and in no relation to costs. …

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