WEBCAST: A CONVERSATION WITH PAUL V. MIFSUD
Hello. My name is Brian Havel, and I’m Director of
the International Aviation Law Institute at DePaul University College of Law
here in downtown Chicago. This is the
eighth installment in our oral history series, “Conversations with Aviation
Leaders,” which explores the origins, history, record, and future direction of
U.S. domestic airline deregulation and international airline liberalization as
told through the voices and memories of those who participated in those events.
Our format today, as it has
been in all previous sessions, will be three one-hour sessions, and we will be
paying special attention today to the aeropolitical relationship between the
United States and its very first Open Skies treaty partner, the Kingdom of the
Today’s interviewee, Paul
Vladimier Mifsud, former KLM Vice President for Government and Legal Affairs in
the United States, will also travel back to the period before the arrival of a formal
U.S. open skies policy in the early 1990s and tell us about the first stirrings
of an international air transport liberalization regime during the preceding
decade or more.
It is fitting, indeed, Paul,
that we meet you at the end of 2015, the year in which you were awarded the L.
Welch Pogue Honor for Lifetime Achievement in Aviation, in recognition of your
important contribution to international aviation policy and cooperation.
As I indicated, for most of
your career, from 1994 to 2010, you were Vice President, Government and Legal
Affairs for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines in Washington, D.C., and General Counsel,
U.S.A. for KLM from 1976 to 1994. In those
capacities, as the Pogue committee recognized, you were on the front lines of
major strategic developments that led ultimately to the current major branded
global airline alliances. You were
involved in negotiations that included an attempt by American Airlines to form
a North Atlantic alliance with KLM, something I didn’t know about until I was
researching your biography.
You were also involved in the
famous KLM-Northwest alliance, which was the first to be awarded antitrust
immunity, and I suspect that you were very much involved in the idea of
inventing antitrust immunity for alliances. And that certainly was the episode that created the idea. You were involved in the KLM-Air France
merger, the metal-neutral joint venture, using a technical term that we’ll talk
about, among Delta, Air France, and KLM.
Your career goes back further,
to working with British Airways in New York, after its formation from a merger
between British Overseas Airways Corporation and British European Airways –
very nostalgic names for aviation buffs. And you helped gain approval of supersonic Concorde flights into the
United States…and I understand the Concorde’s coming back. Is that true? There’s a great new book about the Concorde that’s just appeared, a
biography of the Concorde. You were a
U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Ethiopia, a law graduate from Rutgers University,
an SEC trial attorney, founder of the Mifnet international aviation forum, the
Federal Bar Association’s Transportation Lawyer of the Year, and the Queen of
the Netherlands bestowed on you the Order Oranj-Nassau for your efforts leading
to the first Open Skies agreement with antitrust immunity for KLM-Northwest.
Despite the resonant sound of
your last name, you are not Dutch, but American, and originally from various
backgrounds, including Maltese. But
obviously you are much-honored and respected in the Kingdom of the Netherlands.