oneworld lands DOT antitrust immunity approval
The U.S. Transportation Department on Tuesday granted antitrust immunity to American Airlines and four international partners in 'oneworld' to form an integrated global alliance, but also imposed several conditions to protect consumers and preserve competition.
Today's action makes final the DOT's tentative decision of Feb. 13.
As a result of the DOT's action, American and oneworld alliance partners British Airways, Iberia Airlines, Finnair and Royal Jordanian Airlines will be able to more closely coordinate international services.
The DOT said in a statement that it found 'granting antitrust immunity to the oneworld alliance would provide travelers and shippers with a variety of benefits, including lower fares in some markets, new nonstop routes, improved services and better schedules.' The department also said the alliance would 'enhance competition around the world' by allowing oneworld to compete more effectively with Star Alliance and SkyTeam, which operate similar 'immunized' alliances.
While the DOT found the alliance was generally pro-competitive, it noted the alliance could harm competition on select routes between the United States and London's Heathrow Airport, a major hub for oneworld, where the availability of landing and takeoff slots is limited. To remedy this potential problem, the DOT required the applicants to make four pairs of slots at Heathrow available to competitors for new U.S./London services, with two pairs to be used for Boston/London service and the other two for service from any other U.S. cities.
The DOT also required changes to the alliance to ensure capacity growth, and required the carriers to submit traffic data and to implement the proposed alliance within 18 months. The carriers also must resubmit the alliance agreements for review within five years, the department said.