This Airline Wins the Most From 'Open Skies'

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Jan 7, 2004
Red Planet

This Airline Wins the Most From 'Open Skies'

By Ted Reed Staff Reporter
1/2/2008 6:15 AM EST

For Northwest (NWA - Cramer's Take - Stockpickr), the skies truly have turned out to be open.

The fifth largest U.S. carrier is perhaps the biggest beneficiary of two key liberalized aviation agreements reached this year. As a result of the open skies pact approved by the European Commission in March, Minnesota-based Northwest will operate three new flights to London's Heathrow Airport.

And thanks to a similar arrangement reached with China in May, Northwest will be able to maximize service to the world's most populous nation from its hub at Tokyo's Narita Airport once deliveries of its Boeing 787s begin.

Access to Heathrow, the world's busiest international airport, was the big prize U.S. carriers were targeting with the European open skies deal.

Along with Northwest, Continental (CAL - Cramer's Take - Stockpickr - Rating) and Delta (DAL - Cramer's Take - Stockpickr) were also winners. All three are members of the Skyteam alliance and had been previously shut out by a restrictive bilateral agreement.

"Heathrow is a very important business airport in the largest business market in the world, and it was closed to all but two U.S. carriers," said Laura Liu, Northwest senior vice president for international operations, in an interview. "Those of us who were the have-nots are really happy to see it open."

Next summer, Northwest will fly daily from Heathrow to Detroit, Minneapolis and Seattle. Continental will fly twice daily to Houston and Newark. Delta will fly daily to Atlanta and twice daily to New York.

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