British Airways, American Airlines and Iberia have received final regulatory approval from the European Commission to enter into a joint business agreement on transatlantic flights. The airlines anticipate that they will receive the final decision on transatlantic anti-trust immunity from the US Department of Transportation (DOT) shortly.
British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh said: “We await the DOT’s final decision but welcome this important and vital step forward. The high number of new services on London to US routes since the Open Skies agreement demonstrates that Heathrow is open. Between us, we have agreed to make available Heathrow slot pairs for our competitors to use on services to the US. This is a pragmatic decision so that we can get the joint business up and running as soon as possible. The slot commitments provide a further guarantee that there will be no possible loss of competition as a result of our joint business”.
The slots will be made available if competitor airlines are unable to acquire them through the normal process. The London-New York slots will only have to be made available if the number of services on the route drops below the currently announced levels.
The transatlantic joint business will strengthen competition across the Atlantic by enabling the oneworld alliance to compete on a level playing field with the other global alliances that already have anti-trust immunity. Customers will benefit from easier, seamless and convenient travel to more global destinations with better connections, improved flight schedules, and enhanced frequent flyer benefits.
The airlines plan to launch the transatlantic joint business this autumn.