WORLD: EDITORIAL - Good news for fliers as SKIES OPEN TO FREE COMPETITION.

WORLD: EDITORIAL - Good news for fliers as SKIES OPEN TO FREE COMPETITION. - 'You ain't seen nothing yet.' This is the message for airline passengers and beleaguered aviation executives alike. The already ferocious competition will step up several degree

'You ain't seen nothing yet.' This is the message for airline passengers and beleaguered aviation executives alike. The already ferocious competition will step up several degrees through the '90s. Battle has already commenced. Giant US carriers such as United and American, flushed with their victories at home, are moving onto the global stage. A new battle of the Atlantic looms between the American and European carriers. The decision by the European Commission to open its skies to free competition by the mid-'90s will pave the way for an American style free-for-all.

Many airlines will crack under the pressure. Amalgamations will be rife and trans-national carriers will eventually dominate the major routes, leaving smaller competitors to winkle out new routes and markets. However turbulent life becomes for airlines, more competition is good news for passengers. The American experience of de-regulation has shown that it forces down fares dramatically. Passenger numbers have soared and air travel is now a mass transport business. In Europe, prices are already tumbling. The absurdity of a short-haul flight being more expensive than a transatlantic one will become a distant memory.

Prices are also falling on transatlantic routes (British Airways is now offering a Gatwick-to-Dallas return flight of £259).

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