"Open skies" deal backed by EU

EU Ministers have backed the Open Skies Agreement lifting restrictions on trans-Atlantic air transport. The deal has taken four years to hammer out and will let airlines fly from any point in Europe to any point in the U.S.

Until now, airlines have been allowed to fly only to and from their home countries.

EU representatives say the changes will increase competition and the number of flights, lead to cheaper prices, 80,000 new jobs on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean by 2012, and 25 MLN more passengers.

The agreement takes effect from March 2008, later than expected due to British calls to delay its implementation.