1 AUGUST 1987, Page 24

LETTERS Air competition

Sir: Mr Christopher Fildes (City and Sub- urban, 25 July) condemns as monopolistic the proposals by the British Caledonian and British Airways boards to join forces. This is an emotional approach. If we examine the reality, route by route, the argument simply does not stand up.

There is not a single route served by BCal or BA where a merger between the two airlines presents any danger of a Monopoly. As a united company, BCa1 and ourselves will continue to face far more competition from foreign airlines than we have ever faced from each other. Ther real competition in the airline business is inter- national.

Between us, we carry less than 35 per cent of all passengers, international and domestic, flying in and out of British airports. Even if we look only at interna- tional travellers, the proportion is still under 40 per cent. The balance is carried by our competitors, British or foreign. There are over 100 of them serving Britain alone.

My fear is that unless Britain has an airline strong enough to compete vigorous- ly for that business wherever it can be found not only at home but also overseas, we shall be overwhelmed by the very large United States carriers that are now emerg- ing to challenge their European rivals from a position of ever-increasing strength.

Of course there is a case for a more liberal regime in Europe: we have argued it for years. But there will be little point in our creating a freer market if at the same time we insist that European civil aviation must be Balkanised in the sacred name of competition. No anti-competitive threat that we could devise for ourselves within Europe can approach that which exists from outside.


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