British Midland Airways has stepped up its opposition to a new air services deal between Hong Kong and Britain as the pact would give Cathay Pacific Airways transatlantic rights from London's Heathrow airport - something that British Midland has been denied. Will Lofberg, British Midland's government negotiator said: 'We strongly object to [such] rights being awarded to foreign non-UK carriers, including Cathay ... while BMI is prevented' from flying the route. 'I am sure you will readily understand BMI's frustration if fifth-freedom rights are awarded to Cathay, given that BMI continues to be prevented from operating its own scheduled services to the US from our principal hub at London Heathrow,' said Mr Lofberg, who is also BMI's manager for industry and external affairs. Fifth-freedom rights enable carriers from both sides to pick up passengers and cargo at Heathrow and Chek Lap Kok en route to a third destination. Air services talks between Hong Kong and Britain, scheduled for last week, were postponed to give the UK's Department for Transport time to assess the objection filed by BMI. Hong Kong negotiators are understood to have offered their British counterparts a date late next month to resume talks. Under the proposed deal, Cathay would be granted rights and landing slots to operate from Heathrow to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport. In exchange, Virgin Atlantic Airways would be allowed to extend its London to Hong Kong services to Sydney. But Mr Lofberg said that under the 'restrictive terms' of Bermuda II, the air services pact signed in 1977 by the British and US governments, BMI has been unfairly prevented from serving the US from Heathrow. The agreement - which the two governments have tried, unsuccessfully, to expand many times in the past - allows only British Airways, Virgin, and United and American Airlines to fly between Heathrow and the US. BMI believes that it should be first in line for new transatlantic opportunities. Mr Lofberg said in March, the UK's Department for Transport said its priority was to expand deals with the US to allow BMI to fly transatlantic services from Heathrow, before considering Singapore Airlines' request for the same. While industry consultants say Britain is likely to decide on a deal with Hong Kong because of the consumer benefits of Virgin flying to Sydney, Mr Lofberg said 'UK employment benefits' of BMI operating transatlantic routes must also be weighed.