Select Committee on European Communities Thirty-Second Report



  101.    The relationship between national carriers and national governments was raised by several witnesses. Commissioner van Miert thought that there was still a "very strong relationship" between the previously nationally-owned carriers and governments. While these airlines probably felt that (traditionally) they had been better protected by national (rather than Community) authorities, they now "had to face up to that not being so" (Q 294). British Airways stated that whilst there was no "identity of interest between British Airways and the British Government" it was acknowledged that the Government had a greater interest in their company than in others because "British Airways often requires Ministerial approval or Ministerial backing to engage in a particular enterprise [as] it needs a bilateral agreement" (QQ 244, 249).

  102.    British Midland's view was that "every national government bats hard for its own national carrier" (Q 4) while Virgin Atlantic thought that the role of governments in the airline industry should be limited to ensuring that there was fair and equal competition. It was vitally important that there was "an effective competition policy diligently applied" if dominant airlines were to be prevented from abusing their market power (QQ 188, 206-7). Delta stated that United States' carriers did have certain obligations to hand over airplanes to the United States military in the event of a conflict (Q 67).

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