Sunday, May 11, 2008

Open Skies and Global Skiers

The Open Skies Agreement was signed in Washington D.C. on April 30, 2007 and went into effect last March 30, 2008. For the first time, European airlines can fly without restrictions from any point in the European Union to any point in the United States and viceversa. Open Skies stimulates full competition and is expected to result in better choices and cheaper airfares.
As skiers we can expect new opportunities and affordable tickets to visit the US ski resorts. One year ago Antonio López de Ávila Director of the Executive Master in Tourism Management (IE Business School) remarked "many US States, as well as Europe, have remained isolated to some extent for the other continent. New economic, social and cultural relationships -in services, tourism and various products exchanged by the two regions- will now open and grow". Increased competition will result in lower fares, but not inmediately. Demand continues to be incredibly strong on transatlantic routes and it will take a while for supply to catch up. That, and record prices for oil, will keep fares up, but added capacity should help to lower fares in the future. "We don't even begin to get a glimmer of the possibilities of open-market competition yet", said Jerry Chandler, who writes's travel blog and has been tracking the new open-skies flights. "There could be a lot of flourishing of routes in markets that currently don't exist, especially from smaller US cities to European hubs".
The new air travel scenario links with the actual trend of the "Go Anywhere" Global Skier. Skiers are looking to try something new and different (hit the best powder and the challenging slopes) although that means to travel thousand miles away: "Ski resorts all over the world now can be reached by skiers all over the world. All who can click a mouse can find information on any resort in the world and probably be booked on a plane to be there within the day. It also means that resorts are slowly losing their regional characteristics and all striving to reach the best international standards in all respects. There will, of course, always be local markets, loyal markets, but still, there is the growing trend of the "go anywhere" global skier".