Aer Lingus – Oneworld Application for Antitrust Immunity
WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Department of Transportation announces the tentative approval of, and grant of antitrust immunity for, the proposed addition of Aer Lingus to the existing Oneworld alliance. The carriers request antitrust immunity to include Aer Lingus in the existing joint venture including American Airlines, British Airways, OpenSkies, Iberia, and Finnair. Aer Lingus will be integrated into the joint venture’s network planning, pricing, and sales activities. With Aer Lingus’ addition, over time the carriers are expected to expand capacity on some existing routes while introducing services on several new routes, allowing more options for travel to and from Ireland and the rest of Europe.
The Department’s review of the application and proposed action is described in a Show Cause Order which examines the impact on competition in relevant markets and the expected public benefits of the expanded alliance. As part of the tentative approval, the Show Cause Order includes proposed conditions to address concerns related to competition, to preserve consumer choice, to ensure that the grant of antitrust immunity is in the public interest, and to allow the Department to monitor and assess the benefits produced by the proposed joint venture.
The Department is proposing, as a condition of approval, that the carriers continue to comply with certain slot remedies at London airports that were imposed when the Oneworld alliance was initially approved in 2010, and as have been extended by the United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) while it completes its own investigation into the Oneworld alliance. The Department is also proposing that the carriers remove exclusivity clauses in their alliance agreements and to review the alliance after five years.
The Show Cause Order is a first step. Interested parties have 14 calendar days from the service date of the Show Cause Order to file answers and seven business days from that date to file replies at www.regulations.gov, docket DOT-OST-2008-0252. The Department will review the comments and prepare a final decision.