European Commission: BA, Iberia, AA may need to give up slots to secure immunity
European Commission is reportedly likely to find that the planned trans-Atlantic cooperative business agreement between British Airways, American Airlines and Iberia would result in “appreciable competitive harm” on seven routes between the EU and the US (Financial Times, 26-Oct-2009). The oneworld alliance carriers have applied for anti-trust immunity in Europe and the US to allow them to coordinate fares and schedules. The EC is expected to find that the agreement breaches European competition rules, unless its concerns are addressed. Routes of concern reportedly include services from London to New York, Dallas, Boston, Miami and Chicago and Madrid-Miami and Madrid-Chicago routes. Remedies could include the transfer of take-off and landing slots to other carriers. The US Department of Transportation is due to announce its preliminary decision on the anti-trust application by 31-Oct-2009.
British Airways commented that it would “address and overcome” any objections raised by the EC, and does not believe it will be necessary to transfer or give up airport slots at London Heathrow (Bloomberg, 26-Oct-2009). The carrier believes that the regulatory and competitive environment has changed significantly since it last applied for anti-trust immunity with American Airlines in 2001.