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U.S. raises safety mandate for airlines' global partners



December 7, 1999
Web posted at: 2:09 p.m. EST (1909 GMT)

In this story:

Seeking more than 'minimum standard'

Push for international treaty


From staff and wire reports

CHICAGO (CNN) -- The U.S. government is mandating stricter passenger-safety requirements for international airlines that have "code-sharing" partnerships with carriers based in the United States.

If a non-U.S. carrier fails to meet the safety requirements, a code-sharing agreement will not be allowed, federal aviation officials announced at a global aviation conference in Chicago Monday.

The new safety standards are the government's response to the proliferation of code-sharing arrangements, under which passengers who book flights with one airline may actually fly on a jet operated by another airline in partnership with the booking airline.

The purpose of code sharing is to make traveling seamless for passengers taking more than one flight to an international destination. Code-sharing deals between U.S. and international carriers have tripled in the past five years as U.S. airlines have sought to expand their businesses without the cost of adding to their fleets.

Crowded skies
What should be done to accommodate the increase in air traffic?

The safety guidelines, some still being formulated in discussions with airlines, will require that U.S. carriers conduct regular audits of their international partners to assess their training, maintenance and other practices.

Seeking more than 'minimum standard'

Any carrier flying to the United States already must meet standards established by the International Civil Aviation Organization, the U.N.'s aviation arm.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater said the new federal requirements reflect a wish to implement "the highest common denominator, rather than just having a minimum standard."

Both he and Jane Garvey, administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, who announced the new standards jointly, said the guidelines should lead to increased aviation safety around the world.

Garvey said the standards should be put into effect "within a relatively short period of time."

The U.S. airlines' audits of their partners would not be public, but the Transportation Department's reviews of them would be.

Push for international treaty

The aviation conference, attended by representatives of 93 nations, marks U.S. officials' effort to secure an international treaty governing the skies. A treaty would stimulate world trade and give the flying public more choices and cheaper fares, U.S. officials said.

Currently, international aviation is governed by a network of bilateral agreements, or "open-skies" accords, that lay out what carriers have landing rights in which countries and airports.

The aviation conference marks U.S. officials' effort to secure an international treaty governing the skies.

This is a follow-up effort -- more than half a century after U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt made a failed push for such an accord at the last world aviation conference, held in Chicago in 1944.

In a separate announcement, U.S. officials said they had signed aviation agreements with Italy and Argentina that will permit freer air traffic between the United States and those countries.

Correspondent Gary Tuchman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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