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IATA's Bisignani calls for liberalization, consolidation. IATA DG and CEO Giovanni Bisignani said overly restrictive foreign ownership rules prevent "meaningful consolidation and perpetuate inefficiency." In a speech yesterday to the ICAO Symposium on Liberalization in Dubai, Bisignani said, "the flags on the tails of our aircraft are so heavy they are sinking our industry," and argued that airlines will have difficulty achieving long-term profitability without the ability to consolidate across borders. Sep 19, 2006

IATA's Bisignani said that more than 98% of global airline traffic is still governed by bilateral agreements with ownership or principal place of business restrictions, he said, adding: "The 60-year-old rules that govern our industry are in need of a nice retirement party...The world is changing and so must air transport." Sep 19, 2006

IATA's Bisignani said that the need to liberalize ownership regulations and loosen air treaty restrictions "is immediate and urgent," noting that a US-EU open skies agreement alone "would add $5 billion to the bottom line of the industry." He said airlines must have "basic commercial freedoms" and the ability to "merge and consolidate where it makes sense." Bisignani rejected the notion that security, often cited by governments as the reason for maintaining restrictive aviation policies, would be compromised by liberalization. Drawing...

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