The European Commission has opened an investigation into whether a transatlantic joint venture between Air France-KLM, Alitalia and Delta Air Lines breaches antitrust rules.
All three carriers are members of the SkyTeam airline alliance.
The goal of the investigation is to ensure the tie-up does not harm passengers on European Union-United States routes.
An opening of proceedings means that the Commission will deal with the case as a matter of priority, it does not prejudge the outcome.
Simultaneously, the Commission has closed formal antitrust proceedings in relation to cooperation agreements between eight members of SkyTeam: Aeromexico, Air France, Alitalia, Continental Airlines, Czech Airlines, Delta, KLM and Korean Air Lines.
In 2009 and 2010, several members of the SkyTeam airline alliance - Air France-KLM, Alitalia and Delta - signed agreements establishing a transatlantic joint venture focusing on the routes between Europe and North America.
Pursuant to these agreements, the parties fully coordinate their transatlantic operations with respect to capacity, schedules, pricing and revenue management. The parties also share profits and losses of their transatlantic flights.
This partnership represents the deepest form of cooperation within SkyTeam and aims at the alignment of the parties’ commercial incentives.
The Commission will investigate whether the partnership may harm passengers on certain European Union-United States routes where, in the absence of the joint venture, the parties would be providing competing services. This could be in breach of Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) that prohibits anticompetitive agreements.