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European airlines want to buy US rivals: EU commissioner
Updated: 2005-03-04 21:08

LONDON - European airlines will push for the right to buy US rivals during a new round of "open skies" talks this month with the United States, European Union transport commissioner Jacques Barrot said.

Barrot told the Financial Times that Washington should seriously consider the European view because US carriers faced serious financial problems.

"The Americans need to have investment in their companies, which are struggling, and because of their rules they are depriving themselves of capital," the European Union commissioner said.

He sought to balance the EU's position, however, by saying that the thorny topic of cabotage -- an airline's right to serve domestic routes in a country other than its own -- was no longer a priority issue.

Barrot is expected in Washington on March 21-22 to kickstart talks that broke down last year following a European rejection of US proposals.

Until now, cabotage was one way European airlines hoped to gain greater access to the US market, in particular West Coast airports like LAX in Los Angeles, the newspaper said.

It added that in contrast to US airlines' reluctance to revive the so-called "open skies" negotiations, cargo carriers based there were eager for greater access to Europe's internal freight market.

Barrot said that after meeting with Fred Smith, founder of US logistics firm Federal Express, "we feel there are still a lot of possibilities in the transatlantic relationship."

The EU is to launch similar talks with China and Russia this year.

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