oneworld® has warmly welcomed today’s final approval by the US Department of Transportation (DOT) of the application for anti-trust immunity (ATI) for the alliance’s transatlantic carriers American Airlines, British Airways, Finnair, Iberia and Royal Jordanian, and the joint business agreement (JBA) between the US, UK and Spanish companies.
It follows last week’s approval by the European Commission of the American, BA and Iberia JBA.
This now frees oneworld to compete on a level playing field with the other global alliances - enabling oneworld’s carriers to implement their plans to strengthen competition across the Atlantic with easier, more seamless and more convenient travel opportunities to more destinations with better connections, improved flight schedules, and enhanced frequent flyer benefits.
The three airlines aim to launch their transatlantic joint business this autumn, co-operating on flights between the European Union (along with Switzerland and Norway) and the USA, Canada and Mexico, providing more frequent and convenient schedules than any of the three carriers could offer on their own.
By working together, the airlines will expand customer choice by supporting routes that would not be economically viable for any of them individually. Customers will also benefit from greater access to discounted fares and expanded opportunities to earn and redeem frequent flyer miles and elite tier benefits on flights.
oneworld Managing Partner John McCulloch said: “This is a significant step forward in what is becoming a real breakthrough year for oneworld, freeing us to compete on equal terms in the world’s most hotly contented aviation markets with our competitor alliances, who have been flying with the benefit of anti-trust immunity for many years. It will mean we can make oneworld even better. We’ll be able to unlock even more of the customer value in our alliance. For consumers, this means stronger inter-alliance competition, more choice, more services and more benefits.”
American Airlines Chairman and Chief Executive - and Chairman of the oneworld Governing Board - Gerard Arpey said: “This is a great day for the customers, employees and shareholders of American Airlines and our joint business partners in the oneworld alliance. We thank all of the regulators who reviewed our proposals, both here in the United States and in Europe, and all those persons and organisations that supported us in this effort. We look forward to delivering enhanced competition for customers on transatlantic flights. By working collaboratively, we will enhance our product offerings, strengthen our route networks and better position our airlines to compete in an ever-changing global aviation marketplace.”
British Airways Chief Executive Willie Walsh added: “This final approval is fantastic news for all three airlines and the oneworld alliance. We’ve waited 14 years to bring the benefits of the transatlantic joint business to our customers and level the playing field with the other two global alliances. As we have argued all along, the EU-US market is highly competitive and Heathrow’s liberalisation in 2008 opened it up even further. We are delighted that the US and EU authorities have recognised this. We’re pleased that the DOT and EU have worked together to ensure that there is consistency in the number of slots that the three airlines have to give up for our competitors to use on services from Heathrow to the US.”
Iberia Executive Chairman Antonio Vazquez said: “We’re delighted we have received approval for our joint business as it will be very positive for our employees, our shareholders and, most important of all, our customers. A new kind of collaboration between our three airlines will lead to better service levels for our customers. This means that our customers will have more destinations to choose from around the world, better scheduled travel times, better connections and more competitive fares. I am convinced that consolidation is the best and only way to succeed in the airline industry, and the approval we have received today to create a joint business is a very important step towards this consolidation process.”
Meantime, the reviews by the US DOT and Japan’s Ministry of Transport of the applications by American and Japan Airlines for anti-trust immunity across the Pacific - filed after JAL’s reaffirmation of its oneworld membership in February - is progressing with approval anticipated in September. JAL and BA are also discussing the potential for a joint venture between Europe and Japan.
In other key developments in oneworld’s “breakthrough year”, it will add Russia’s leading domestic carrier S7 Airlines later this year, with India’s leading carrier Kingfisher Airlines signed to follow later, following the addition of Mexico and Central America’s leading airline Mexicana at the close of 2009.
Last week, the European Commission also approved the merger which British Airways and Iberia are aiming to complete by the end of this year, significantly strengthening links between oneworld’s two biggest European partners.
oneworld was named in May as the World’s Best Airline Alliance in the World Airline Awards run by Skytrax, the independent airline quality organization. oneworld is also the current holder of the World’s Leading Alliance title in the World Travel Awards, an honour it has retained for seven years running, ever since it was first presented.