US Department of Transportation (DOT) proposed (30-Aug-2013) to approve a request by Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic Airways, along with their SkyTeam partners, for antitrust immunity that would allow the airlines to operate a JV on services between the US and the UK. The US DOT noted, "If the decision is made final, Delta and Virgin Atlantic would be able to more closely coordinate their operations between North America and the United Kingdom. The Department tentatively concluded that the alliance would benefit passengers by providing stronger competition with existing alliances in the U.S.-Europe market and that it would be unlikely to have anticompetitive effects. Objections to DOT’s show-cause order are due in 14 calendar days, with answers to objections due seven calendar days afterward". [more - original PR]
US DOT proposes to approve Delta-Virgin Atlantic antitrust immunity agreement.
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Norwegian Air's North Atlantic seats up 51% this summer, but longer term long haul growth needs NAI
Norwegian continues to await the long-delayed approval of a US foreign carrier permit for its Irish subsidiary Norwegian Air International (and for its UK subsidiary Norwegian Air UK). US traffic rights for these two subsidiaries would give Norwegian the opportunity to fly both east and west with the same operating airline and with EU traffic rights in both directions. This would increase the operational flexibility and cost efficiency of its long haul operations and allow lower fares on a greater number of routes.
Nevertheless, in the meantime and aided by low fuel prices, Norwegian is getting on with an ambitious trans-Atlantic expansion plan and has now carried three million passengers between Europe and the US since 2013. Its summer 2016 seat capacity has jumped by 51% year on year (based on OAG data for the week of 5-Sep-2016), including nine new routes this summer. It plans two more routes in the coming winter schedule and four US routes from Barcelona in summer 2017.
Well over half of Norwegian's North Atlantic routes are new to the market, which has been significantly stimulated by its entry. This has provided choice and lower fares for passengers, and created new airline jobs. Those still seeking to block approval for NAI and NUK are acting against the interests both of consumers and aviation workers.
Norwegian Air's NAI awaits final approval of US rights. Credibility of US-EU open skies is at stake
All objections and further comments on the tentative grant of a US foreign air carrier permit to Norwegian's Irish subsidiary Norwegian Air International (NAI) by the Department of Transportation (DoT), on 15-Apr-2015, have now been made. Not surprisingly, a number of labour organisations and some US senators filed to reiterate their opposition. Many supportive comments were also received.
The opponents' central contention is that NAI's business model contravenes the US-EU open skies agreement's Article 17 bis, aimed at upholding labour standards. This is merely a retread of the argument rejected by the legal counsels of the DoT and the US State Department, and by the Office of Legal Counsel. Some also repeat the unfounded claim that NAI poses a threat to safety. Both positions forget that NAI's employment and safety regulations are those of Ireland, an EU nation. They also forget that NAI will create new jobs in the US and EU.
It would be remarkable if the DoT were to reverse its tentative approval, reached after more than two years of deliberation. The US-EU agreement was designed to stimulate competition, to the benefit of consumers. Approval for NAI is essential to its ongoing credibility. A final decision now awaits.