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DOT Tentatively Approves American Airlines and British Airways Joint Venture

Posted  February 24, 2010

The U.S. Department of Transportation (“DOT”) has issued a show-cause order that tentatively approves the antitrust immunity application for the joint venture between members of the oneworld airline alliance, including American Airlines, British Airways, and Iberia.  The tentative approval applies to transatlantic traffic, which American Airlines and British Airways dominate for routes between the U.S. and the U.K.

For approval, the DOT required the oneworld alliance to give up four daily landing slots at Heathrow Airport near London.  This requirement represents a much less demanding concession from American Airlines and British Airways than requested for previous immunity applications.  For example, in 2002, the DOT requested that the alliance give up 14 daily landing slots and remove certain routes from the ambit of the antitrust immunity application, i.e., “carve outs,” so that antitrust liability would still apply to those city pairs.

American Airlines and Japan Airlines, which is also a oneworld member, have also applied for antitrust immunity for transpacific routes.  That application is still pending before the DOT.

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