British Airways discontented with U.S. aviation sector stand-off to investors

The chief executive of British Airways on Monday expressed disappointment with the United States for not opening up its aviation sector more aggressively to foreign investment. Earlier this month, the U.S. government said it would give overseas investors in U.S. airlines more say in management decisions to encourage foreign capital in the troubled industry.

However, it stopped short of increasing the 25 percent limit on foreign ownership of airlines and denied overseas investors any say in decisions that involve safety, security or defense contracts.

"It has not gone close to delivering what it should have delivered," said Willie Walsh, who took the top job at Britain's largest airline last month.

"I am disappointed with the move on the part of the United States with regard to ownership and control," Walsh told reporters in Bangalore, where he launched a direct flight from the Indian technology hub to London.

He expressed optimism, however, that a liberal "open skies" policy being negotiated by the United States and the European Union would be sealed by early 2007. The proposed deal would liberalize air travel and cargo transport across the Atlantic, the AP says.

"I still believe that the open skies policy would be reached within 18 months," Walsh said.


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