Delta Air Lines and US Airways announced plans to drop their proposed swap of take-off and landing slots at Washington and New York, instead filing an appeal against the US’ Department of Transportation (AP/Bloomberg, 02-Jul-2010). The carriers claim the Government lacked the authority to deny the transaction. Delta and US Airways planned to swap slots at LaGuardia and Reagan National allowing Delta to expand at LaGuardia to compliment its JFK services, and US Airways to expand at Reagan National Airport to secure the right to launch additional international services. The FAA proposed to scale back the slot swap and divest a number of slots to other carriers following concerns of reduced competition at the airports.
Delta and US Airways to appeal landing slot decision
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Logic dictates approval of Alaska-Virgin America merger; anti-trust hawks loom large
A pushback in the closing date of the merger of Alaska Air Group and Virgin America – to allow the US government more time for its review of the transaction – created some jitters among investors about the eventual approval of the tie-up, evidenced by a drop in Virgin America’s stock price, which had soared after the deal was tabled in Apr-2016.
Despite the extra time regulators are taking to review the merger, a full-blown rejection of the deal is unlikely given the drastically smaller scope created by Alaska and Virgin America. Indeed, the combined airline creates a more viable entity to compete with the mega-carriers created by previous mergers; not a threat to consumer choice.
Close scrutiny by US regulators was always expected, as are some form of concessions in order for the agreement to ultimately gain the government’s approval. The form those concessions could take has spurred significant speculation from slot divestitures to the relinquishment of gates. Perhaps the key for Alaska is ensuring that the composition of those concessions does not compromise the economics of the transaction.
Aeromexico and Delta JV: major uncertainty reigns after the DoT hits hard with slot divestitures
A transborder joint venture between SkyTeam partners Aeromexico and Delta is hanging in the balance now that the US DoT has required slot divestitures and other stipulations in order for the airlines to move forward with their proposed business agreement. Not surprisingly, Aeromexico and Delta believe limitations proposed by US regulators would diminish the economic benefits of the joint venture, and are warning they are reconsidering deepening their business ties.
Numerous airlines expressed concerns about Aeromexico and Delta’s concentration of slots at Mexico City Juarez, and the DoT responded by requiring slot divestitures at the airport along with the relinquishment of slots at New York JFK. The airlines have countered that the DoT’s analysis is flawed, and that a smaller number of slot divestitures at Juarez required by Mexico’s government should allay any concerns expressed by competitors. Aeromexico and Delta also argue another stipulation imposed by US regulators – limiting the joint venture to a five-year term – would create too much uncertainty for the viability of the business venture.
Delta’s plans to take its stake in Aeromexico up to 49% was contingent on the JV proposal succeeding. But with the stipulations imposed by DoT in order for the partners to establish their joint venture a dark cloud of uncertainty is hovering over Aeromexico’s future ownership structure.