Traveling to Europe is about to get easier and cheaper. March 30, the "open skies agreement" will be effective. This agreement allows airlines based in the U. S. as well as European airlines to travel to any two airports in either region.
Before the agreement, the trans-Atlantic flights were governed by different agreements; one between the U. S. and separate European regions. The pacts required airlines to take off or land in their native countries, and limited which airlines could serve certain airports.
Before this new agreement British Airways flights headed for the U. S. had to take off in Britain. And only two U. S. carriers could land at Heathrow Airport (London), United and American.
When this agreement goes into effect Continental, Delta and Northwest will be able to serve Heathrow for the first time.
Michael O’Leary, chief executive of Ryanair, the Irish no-frills carrier, has said he plans to start a new airline that will fly from secondary European markets like Liverpool or Birmingham to a half-dozen American cities like Baltimore or Providence, R.I., for a base fare as low as 10 euros, or about $16 at $1.59 to the euro.
Air France will begin operating a daily flight between Los Angeles and Heathrow on March 30.
This agreement is said to be a blessing for most travelers. Currently there is no direct flight from Dallas-Fort Worth to Heathrow. This forces passengers to fly from Dallas to Gatwick or Luton, other London airports, even if they have a connecting flight out of Heathrow. The passengers then have to haul luggage through passport check points, take a cab or bus to the other airport and check in again, a process that could take more than three hours.
Aside from making things easier on the traveler, this new agreement should put pressure on airlines to reduce fairs. United will begin flying between Denver and Heathrow on March 30, with introductory fares starting at $570 round trip for travel before May 15. British Airways, by contrast, has been offering that same route for $1,461, according to an online search.
Consumers are warned not to expect great deal yet. With the price of fuel sky-rocketing, this will have an effect on ticket pricing.
Trans-Atlantic Flights for Air France and Delta