VETERANS of the Concorde landing rights saga in the United States will have smiled wryly this week at the news that the much publicised Open Skies agreement, negotiated during the Bush administration between the European Union and the United States, has run into more turbulence - this time in the US House of Representatives which has just passed an obscure Bill on twice-yearly inspection of maintenance facilities for US aircraft in Europe which would cost EU operators a huge sum if replicated in the US for EU aircraft. The Open Skies agreement - in principle one of the most liberating pieces of legislation ever agreed between its two parties - provides that American passenger aircraft can fly to any point in the EU and that European airlines can offer services to any place in America. In addition US flights will be able to fly between European cities although this concession will not initially apply within the United States for EU operators. The EU Ambassador in Washington, John Bruton, told sources in Brussels this week that he hopes to be able to persuade members of the US Senate to negate the House of Representatives Bill when it reaches them. But this is another example of how the US separation of powers complicates life for those trading with the US - reaching an agreement with the administration is one thing but getting approval from Congress may prove to be quite another.
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