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Airline antitrust approvals in the Trump Administration: unpredictable

US regulators have two outstanding antitrust, JV applications in their rosters – Hawaiian Airlines’ request to forge a JV with Japan Airlines (JAL), and American’s and Qantas’ desire to develop a joint venture. Qantas and American are making a second attempt at gaining antitrust immunity.

The ultimate decision rendered by US regulators regarding Hawaiian and Japan Airlines and the American and Qantas request for antitrust immunity is tough to determine. Generally, the administration of US President Trump presides over antitrust immunity on a more ad hoc basis, rather than from a more established policy perspective. Opponents to JVs have also gained a voice during the past couple of years, and those antagonists have won some small victories in the JV approval process during that time.

Antitrust in the US airline industry has been a standard operating procedure for large US airlines for more than a decade as the largest operators have formed JVs instead of cross-border mergers, and for some of those airlines the monetary value of those partnerships is significant.

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