Meaningful liberalization of the U.S.-U.K. market could only be achieved if truly competitive access to Heathrow Airport is made available before any U.S.-U.K. alliances receive antitrust immunity, US Airways said today in a filing with the U.S. Department of Transportation on liberalized air service between the U.S. and the U.K.
For US Airways, this means commercially viable, competitive slots and facilities at Heathrow from Day One for four daily roundtrips from its transatlantic gateways at Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Charlotte, the company said.
In its filing, US Airways said, “Granting antitrust immunity to these proposed alliances without first achieving competitive access for other U.S. carriers would create nothing less than a government-sponsored duopoly at Heathrow.”
“The U.S. and U.K. have an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen the competitive environment by ensuring meaningful access from the U.S. to Heathrow Airport, the largest intercontinental aviation market in the world,” said US Airways Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Stephen M. Wolf. “However, fair competition can only be achieved if viable access to Heathrow is provided before either of the alliances involving the two largest carriers in both the U.S. and U.K. is approved.”
US Airways said it is uniquely situated to be a “strong, competitive force in the U.S.-U.K. and U.S.-London markets” due to its extensive route network in the eastern U.S., where a significant number of passengers traveling between the two nations originate or terminate their trips. The company furthermore stated that the slots and facilities holdings between the two alliances are “enormous” and that DOT “should now be more readily able to provide new entrant, non-Heathrow carriers like US Airways with the Heathrow access necessary to ensure a competitive market structure.”
US Airways said it is committed to becoming a forceful competitor in the U.S.-U.K. market, which necessarily entails service to London-Heathrow. “The single most important step that the Department can take and preserve a truly competitive market structure under a liberalized U.S.-U.K. aviation agreement with immunized alliances for American-British Airways and United-British Midland is to ensure that from Day One US Airways is able to compete effectively to Heathrow from its three network hubs in the eastern United States,” the company said.
Reporters needing additional information should contact US Airways Corporate Communications at (703) 872-5100.