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Sunday, 4 June, 2000, 14:24 GMT 15:24 UK
Hopes grow for Heathrow flights deal
Heathrow airport
More airlines want to fly to the US from Heathrow
Pressure is growing on the US and the UK to bring more competition to the transatlantic flights market.

Formal talks between the two countries are set to resume on 12 June, following the breakdown in negotiations in January this year.

Currently only four airlines can offer flights between Heathrow and the US and more airlines from the two countries want access to the lucrative market. On Friday, the US Transport secretary Rodney Slater said that they hoped to seal a deal by the end of this year.

Separately, a survey released on Sunday shows that business travellers from Heathrow pay far higher fares than their counterparts travelling from Europe to the US.

Restricted access

The current agreement allows only British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, American Airlines and United Airlines to fly direct scheduled flights between Heathrow and the US.


The cost of business travel to New York
Heathrow 3,342
Paris 2,410
Copenhagen 2,024
Amsterdam 1,799
Frankfurt 1,790
Brussels 1,383
Milan 1,210

But other airlines, which have seen the large profits that can be raked in on what is a restricted market, have been keen to enter the fray.

The talks foundered when the US demanded greater access for its carriers at London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports. UK airlines want the right to operate between cities in the US, which Washington opposes.

While the price of consumer flights to the US may be falling, business flights are still more expensive than from elsewhere in Europe, according to a survey carried out by British Midland.

A business class flight to New York from Heathrow costs 3,342, compared with 1,799 from Amsterdam and 1,210 from Milan, the survey said.

It claims the discrepancy is a direct result of the lack of competition on these flights.

The UK is just one of four European countries that have not negotiated an "Open Skies" deal with the US.

The others are Greece, Ireland and Spain.

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28 Jan 00 | Business
Heathrow-US flight talks fail
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