SCANDINAVIANS HALT TALKS WITH US

SCANDINAVIANS HALT TALKS WITH US

Transportation negotiators for three Scandinavian countries say they halted talks with the United States Wednesday after U.S. negotiators rejected a liberalizing proposal for expanded air service.

It is ironic that the Americans rejected our proposal almost at the same moment that their chief negotiator talked about more liberal agreements, commented Andreas Lothe, Norway's director general for civil aviation and a member of the Scandinavian team.We did not come back with a repeat of our open-skies proposal of last year, but with a plan that would have benefitted both sides, Mr. Lothe said in a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

Norway, Denmark and Sweden share ownership of Scandinavian Airlines System, better known as SAS. Because of this joint ownership, all three nations share identical bilateral air service agreements with the United States.

In March and again in June 1987 those countries pitched their so-called open skies proposal, which would have effectively eliminated all constraints between the United States and Scandinavia.

Both times the United States rejected the proposal.

Tuesday and Wednesday, the Scandinavian team proposed unlimited service opportunities to U.S. carriers in exchange for SAS being able to pick from a list of agreed-upon points in the continental United States. SAS would have been able to add one new U.S. city a year from the negotiated list. For the remaining cities agreed on, SAS could craft marketing agreements with domestic carriers for feeder service.

Currently, SAS can serve only four points in the lower 48 states, plus Anchorage, Alaska, and San Juan, Puerto Rico. The last addition to SAS's service rights came in 1966, when the carrier won San Juan.

U.S. carriers can serve any point in Denmark, Norway or Sweden from any city in the U.S.

The proposal also included open pricing with no government oversight, and rights for U.S. carriers to service Scandinavian points indirectly.

The Scandinavian governments feel that as U.S. carriers have gained capacity and traffic between the region and the United States, some opportunity for a more relaxed agreement is in order.