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This month's show: Open Skies

  • Story Highlights
  • We speak to chief U.S. negotiator to discuss likelihood of Open Skies phase II
  • Virgin Atlantic doesn't thinks Phase II will happen, British Airways does
  • CNN Business Traveller flies Air France's new LHR to LA route and Delta JFK to LHR
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- This month, CNN Business Traveller is on board the first transatlantic flight to London Heathrow under the new Open Skies treaty between the E.U. and the United States.

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Open Skies is the most dramatic change in aviation in decades.

The first flight was on Continental Airlines from Newark airport on Saturday March 29, where Richard Quest had the chance to speak to Jeff Smisek, president of Continental Airlines. Previously restricted to London Gatwick, Continental landed for the first time at Heathrow on Sunday March 30.

The freedom to fly

The treaty will enable American carriers to fly from any city in the U.S. to any European city and vice versa. It is the most dramatic change in aviation in decades, which means more choice for passengers.

All eyes are on U.S. congress to allow the right for Europeans carriers to fly domestic routes in America. When the treaty was signed last year, the E.U. gave American carriers the right to fly to Europe and onto other European destinations.

The U.S. has until 2010 to reciprocate this right to fly, which will be called Phase II of Open Skies. If the US doesn't deliver, there is a clause in the agreement that states the treaty can be torn up.

We talk to John Byerly, the chief U.S. negotiator in Washington to try and gauge if domestic flights are on the cards for the E.U.

Virgin Atlantic is the only airline that is not planning to introduce new routes because the airline thinks Phase II will not happen. Richard Quest talks to Virgin CEO Steve Ridgeway to find out why they are happy to wait and see.

British Airways CEO, Willie Walsh believes Phase II will happen, however. This is reflected with BA's plans for a new subsidiary airline OpenSkies that will operate out of its new hub, Heathrow Terminal 5. BA will also launch all-business class flights from London City Airport in 2009.

We will also be flying Air France's new route: London to Los Angeles. The airline has re-allocated its precious slots at Heathrow to fly the more lucrative transatlantic route.

We get an insight to Air France's strategy from Air-France CEO Jean-Cyril Spinetta, and Delta Airlines CEO Richard Anderson tells Richard Quest how Open Skies will affect the airline and discusses the plans for future expansion.

Passenger experience

Open Skies will give passengers more choice in destinations and airlines; and hopefully competitive fares.

It will also help our traveling experience. We look at the trend of having terminals dedicated to airline alliances to increase efficiency at airports. Richard Quest has a look round Los Angeles International.

We examine whether the all-Business Class market has a future. Richard Quest visits Luton airport and speaks to Silverjet CEO Lawrence Hunt.

Sunset to Sunrise

We'll be doing CNN Business Traveller's regular segment a little differently this month as we embark on Delta's new evening flight from JFK arriving the next day at London Heathrow.

On board we will be road-testing some travel gadgets and show you how to survive the red eye from Sunset to Sunrise. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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