Monday, 22 December 2003

Not Many People Know That...

Samizdata.Net has a truly educational article about the Bizarre state of International Airline Regulation.

OK, compared with the recent Libyan renouncement of Nuclear and Germ Warfare, and the capture of that Stalin-manque Saddam, this may appear of no great worth and moment.

Yet it affects every person who flies over national borders.
It was recently announced that after talks between the British and Hong Kong governments, Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic Airways had won its long desired rights to fly from London to Sydney, Australia. In return for this, Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Airways were given the right to fly from London Heathrow to New York and other cities in the United States. Various observations were made about how an additional competitor on each route would increase competition and give passengers lower fares and more options.

While this is true as far as it goes, this is a pretty bizarre paragraph if you think about it. Why does the British government have to negotiate with the Hong Kong government before a private company can fly to Australia? In what parallel universe is the quid pro quo you must offer to get your airline permission to fly to Australia the permission for another airline from a third country to fly to New York?
Please go read the whole thing to find out how this truly dadaesque set of affairs came about, what "fifth freedom" rights are, and more. As I said before, it´s an education.

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