Continental Airlines Statement On American/British Airways Alliance

Continental Airlines (NYSE: CAL) today
issued the following statement in response to this morning`s announcement by
American Airlines and British Airways that they will seek regulatory approval
of a strengthened transatlantic alliance:

“Continental Airlines strongly opposes any alliance between American
Airlines and British Airways.  Their agreement would increase the two
carriers` already dominant position in the U.S.-U.K. market, particularly at
London`s Heathrow Airport.  This grossly anticompetitive alliance would allow
these two transatlantic megaplayers to jointly set fares and schedules and
would result in increased fares and fewer choices for customers traveling on
transatlantic routes.  Under their agreement, American and British Airways
also plan to share profits on routes where today they compete head to head.
 
“Nothing has changed in the five years since American Airlines and British
Airways initially proposed their alliance.  While Heathrow remains a vital
center of global business and trade, access and slots from the U.S. remain
unattainable by U.S. carriers like Continental.
 
“Together, American and British Airways already control more than half of
the traffic on key routes between the U.S. and Heathrow, and operate monopoly
service on at least nine U.S.-London and 16 U.S.-U.K. routes.
 
“The anticompetitive American-British Airways alliance should never be
approved.  Additionally, there is no benefit to consumers and the U.S. should
not agree to open skies unless there is open access to Heathrow, including
guarantees that Continental Airlines and others be allowed to serve Heathrow
airport; that a significant number of slots at competitive times be made
available and that gate space and facilities be opened to new entrants.  This
access by new-entrant U.S. carriers must come before any new services are
added by British carriers using existing slot portfolios.”


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