bmi today welcomed the decision by the UK Office of Fair Trading (`OFT`) to clear its proposed alliance with United Airlines in the transatlantic market. The clearance will enable bmi and United to engage in price, schedule and route co-ordination in the transatlantic market once bmi is authorised to operate to the USA from its home base at London Heathrow.
In approving the alliance the OFT stated that the agreement is pro consumer and will bring benefits to the travelling public. The clearance was not subject to any conditions.
The companies obtained clearance from the US Department of Transportation earlier in the year to the alliance subject to the conclusion of an open skies agreement between the UK and US.
Austin Reid, bmi`s chief executive said
” We are pleased that OFT has acknowledged that this alliance will bring important consumer benefits and enhance network competition between competing alliances. What we now need urgently is for the UK and US governments to negotiate a liberalised air services agreement that will enable additional competition to be introduced at Heathrow and allow bmi and United to properly compete with the dominant carriers in the Heathrow—US market.”
“The time has come to put consumer benefits and competition ahead of protection of the market position of the UK`s only current authorised carriers in this market.”