WASHINGTON, D.C. - American Airlines and British Airways today issued the following statement regarding the Department of Justice (DOJ) filing to the U.S.-U.K. Alliance Case.
“The first round of governmental comment in either the U.S. or Europe, today`s U.S. DOJ announcement is not unexpected from an agency that has traditionally taken the hardest line in previous airline competition matters. DOJ establishes an outer limit of potential remedies that is far improved from those it advised in the 1996 application. While only an advisory opinion, importantly the DOJ filing endorses a U.S.-U.K. open skies agreement and recognizes more competition and less consolidation in the transatlantic aviation market since 1996.
However, we believe the DOJ proposed divestiture of 126 weekly slots is inappropriate. DOJ underestimated the commercial availability of slots at Heathrow and the competitive advantages already being enjoyed by other global alliance networks. Most significantly, DOJ did not consider the potential benefits of a new U.S.-U.K. open skies agreement.
The DOJ filing is only an advisory opinion. DOT is the agency with the decision-making authority in the U.S. We are confident that DOT and the decision-making authorities in Europe will consider the complete record in reaching a fully informed decision on the application, among the most extensively documented and deliberated ever considered.
We intend to file additional materials with DOT later this week that elaborate further on the potential benefits of open skies, the reality of network-to-network competition and the Heathrow slot situation.”
Neither American Airlines nor British Airways will comment beyond this statement.