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US tentatively grants antitrust immunity to American Airlines and JAL

7-Oct-2010 8:54 AM

American Airlines and Japan Airlines, both members of the oneworld alliance, welcomed (06-Oct-2010) an order issued by the US Department of Transportation (DoT) tentatively approving their antitrust immunity application filed in Feb-2010. By this action, the DoT has moved a step closer to granting antitrust immunity to the airlines, as allowed under a provision of the Open Skies agreement initialed by the US and Japan in Dec-2010. Open Skies allows new services between the US and Tokyo Haneda. American will launch New York JFK-Tokyo Haneda service on 20-Jan-2011, while Japan Airlines will commence Tokyo Haneda-San Francisco and Tokyo Haneda-Honolulu service from 31-Oct-2010. Under an immunised agreement, the airlines will cooperate commercially on flights between North America and Asia while continuing to operate as separate legal entities. Obtaining antitrust immunity for their proposed trans-Pacific joint business will allow American Airlines and Japan Airlines to better compete with the two other global alliances that serve the US–Asia market. The DoT also granted tentative antitrust immunity for United Airlines, Continental Airlines and All Nippon Airways, all members of the Star Alliance having consolidated the two requests into a single proceeding in Mar-2010. The US DoT found that the carriers’ cooperation in two separate alliances would improve competition, lower fares and increase schedule options, according to an agency statement. [more]