The five oneworld? alliance members that are seeking global antitrust immunity have taken another step toward increasing worldwide competition and improved service for customers by responding to a request for additional information from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).
American Airlines, British Airways, Iberia, Finnair and Royal Jordanian filed their response on March 13 to answer follow-up questions posed by DOT in December. In August the airlines submitted their application to DOT and also informed the appropriate authorities in the European Union.
Antitrust immunity will benefit the public by allowing oneworld to compete more effectively against the SkyTeam and Star alliances, both of which already enjoy broad antitrust immunity. Consumers will also benefit from expanded opportunities to earn and redeem frequent flyer miles and elite tier benefits on flights worldwide as well as continued reciprocal airport lounge access. Employees and shareholders will also benefit from the arrangement, which will allow the airlines to expand service opportunities and improve their ability to remain competitive.
The oneworld airlines continue to expect DOT approval of their application in the second half of 2009. DOT’s request for information is a routine part of the application process. After DOT reviews the filing and deems the application complete, it will issue a scheduling order inviting public comment. That order triggers a six-month timeframe for a decision.
As part of the overall application, American, British Airways and Iberia presented a joint business agreement to cooperate more closely on flights between North America and Europe. By working together to provide links for connecting passengers, the airlines can expand consumer choice by supporting routes that otherwise would not be economically viable.
This more integrated relationship will benefit consumers by enabling easy, seamless and convenient travel on the three airlines’ combined route network serving more than 400 destinations in more than 100 countries with more than 5,000 daily departures and more frequent and convenient schedule options than American, British Airways or Iberia can offer individually. In addition to enabling the airlines to share revenues and attract new customers, the agreement will provide a greater ability to invest in products, services and fleets.