Northwest Airlines has expressed its disappointment and surprise at the United States Department of Transportation (DOT).The DOT has made a decision to deny the application of a group of airlines in the SkyTeam alliance for international anti-trust immunity (ATI) on trans-Atlantic routes.
The application, filed in September of 2004, sought to bridge the ATI
already held by Air France, Alitalia, CSA Czech Airlines and Delta Air
Lines, with the ATI already held by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Northwest Airlines.
“We are truly surprised and disappointed by the DOT’s actions,” said Andrea Fischer Newman, senior vice president of government affairs.
“The decision is inconsistent with all of the DOT’s prior decisions wherein they have consistently granted ATI to other global alliances, especially when, as here, the proposal is pro-competitive and will greatly benefit consumers.”
“Northwest’s request was simple. Today, there are three global alliances. Members of one alliance, SkyTeam, asked the DOT for ATI for the integration of their intra-alliance operations. Approval is critical for SkyTeam to provide maximum benefits to both U.S. consumers and the participating airlines. A more fully integrated SkyTeam offers significant advantages. Major corporations, which are sophisticated consumers of airline services, support SkyTeam’s request. These companies, including General Motors, General Mills, Ford, and FedEx, say that an expanded SkyTeam will improve flight schedules, reduce travel times, add new service and lower fares,” Fischer Newman continued.
“Today’s DOT decision places these benefits in jeopardy, and does not help Northwest’s efforts to emerge from bankruptcy. It is also inconsistent with the DOT’s recent efforts to obtain “open skies” between the U.S. and European Union (EU), as well as liberalisation of airline ownership and control issues,” she added.
“At a time when the Administration is calling for further liberalisation and
consolidation, it is hard to see how this decision is consistent with that
Northwest intends to respond to the DOT’s show cause order and will review all of the company’s options as it moves forward.