Should the US regulate air traffic again

New rules in force

Two innovations for air passengers are effective immediately: the EU's open sky agreement with the USA and the Schengen expansion also in air traffic.

The airports are opening up
Air traffic between the USA and Europe is being completely reorganized: the Open Sky Agreement is in force. Until now, the airlines could not just take off or land anywhere. Now everyone is allowed to fly to any airport in the US and Europe.

That brings new connections: at least four new airlines are starting from London-Heathrow alone to the USA. And British Airways (BA) is planning new connections from Brussels and Paris.

Flights to the USA are even cheaper
BA can now offer flights to the USA from all airports. This eliminates the often annoying change in London, and the frequency of flights increases significantly.

For passengers, the greater competition means cheaper transatlantic tickets in addition to the already extremely cheap dollar exchange rate - more on this in oe1.ORF.at.

No more passport controls
The second innovation: the latest expansion of the Schengen area has been completed with the abolition of border controls at European airports. Since midnight on Sunday, 400 million EU citizens have been able to travel by air from the Baltic states to Portugal without passport control.

Last December, the controls at the land and water borders were dropped. Overall, the Schengen area was expanded from 15 to 24 states. In addition to Poland and the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia and Malta joined the association.

Airports rebuilt
The new Schengen members had to rebuild their airports according to the specifications from Brussels. This mainly includes separate areas for passengers from Schengen states and from other countries. Several Eastern European capitals such as Warsaw, Prague and Budapest took the opportunity to modernize their airports and build new terminals.

ID must be included
The reason for the later lifting of entry and exit controls at the airports in the extended Schengen zone was that they should be coordinated with the changeover to the summer flight schedule.

The airline's identity checks at check-in and security checks will not change. Passengers must therefore still have either a passport or an identity card with them.

Liechtenstein and Switzerland follow
The enlarged Schengen area includes 22 out of a total of 27 countries in the European Union, plus Norway and Iceland. The accession of the EU member Cyprus as well as Liechtenstein and Switzerland, which do not belong to the EU, is planned for the end of the year.

Bulgaria and Romania, which have been part of the EU since January 1, 2007, are planning to join the Schengen area in 2011. Great Britain and Ireland have not yet joined the association.

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