Continental Airlines (NYSE: CAL), in response to the U.S. Department of Transportation`s announcement today that it will extend the review period of the proposed alliance among Continental, Delta and Northwest and had received complaints regarding allegedly anti-competitive actions taken by those carriers, issued the following statement:
“In connection with its unrelated review of our proposed codesharing alliance with Delta and Northwest, the DOT has told us that America West has complained about competitive responses that Continental took in connection with America West`s fare restructuring in March 2002.
“Continental`s competitive responses to America West`s actions were totally lawful and in full compliance with the antitrust laws. America West`s complaint is without merit. That complaint is about totally unrelated and lawful actions which preceded the formation of our proposed alliance. The DOT is inappropriately linking its review with unrelated, unfounded allegations of a competitor.
“The DOT`s attempt to hold our alliance hostage in order to support the unfounded allegations of an airline partly owned by the U.S. government is an attempt to inappropriately protect a competitor, rather than competition.
“We are surprised that the DOT believes that our proposed alliance raises competitive concerns, since we months ago satisfactorily concluded our discussions with the Department of Justice concerning the alliance. The Department of Justice is the agency responsible for enforcing the antitrust laws with respect to airlines.
“Most importantly, this further review extension by the DOT will delay the ability of Continental, Delta and Northwest customers to access the broader alliance network, and postpone the great consumer benefits that this pro- competitive alliance will bring.”