New airline embraces open skies spirit

With a name like OpenSkies, there's no doubting the source of inspiration behind British Airways' new airline. Talk about building off the buzz! The carrier intends to kick off service with flights between New York and either Brussels or Paris in June. That's remarkable because the old rules required airlines to route flights to or from their home country, but this situation—a British carrier operating routes between the U.S. and France or Belgium—will become the norm under the new open skies agreement.

OpenSkies plans to operate six 757s by the end of 2009, with routes between New York and Europe. The planes will be divided into business, premium economy, and economy classes, and will carry no more than 82 passengers. Planes will be retrofitted with winglets to improve fuel efficiency.

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Now that we're less than three months away from the commencement of the Europe-U.S. open skies agreement, I think it's safe to expect a snowballing of new route announcements from U.S. and European airlines. Whether the new competition will drive prices down despite high fuel prices and a sellers' market, however, remains to be seen.

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