European Union ministers approved the Open Skies agreement yesterday in Brussels. As a result, airlines flying between Europe and the U.S. have fewer restrictions about where they must depart and land. For example, only certain U.S. airlines are allowed to land at London Heathrow International Airport at present. The new agreement would open gates up to airlines that have traditionally lacked access to this busy airport. And European airlines will be allowed to fly to U.S. cities from locations outside their home nations. The way things stand right now, European airlines, say Air France for example, can only fly to the U.S. from an airport in their own country – in Air France’s case, from France.
What does this mean for travelers? A greater variety of flight options between the U.S. and Europe, as well as lower fares on popular routes. But don’t expect to see any changes right away. Originally slated to take effect in October, the date has been pushed back to March 30, 2008.