No Way, AA/BA, again

richard-branson.jpgThe papers are full of reports that American Airlines and British Airways are again applying for alliance antitrust immunity, but they haven’t yet. That has not stopped Richard Branson from attacking the proposal, just as he did the last time around. Back then, he decorated his planes with the slogan NO WAY AA/BA; this time he’s writing to the US presidential candidates. In his letter, Branson says that “BA/AA would have a combination of high frequencies and a transatlantic network that could not be replicated by any other airline/alliance, and which would make it impossible for other carriers to compete for time-sensitive corporate or business travellers.” 

The key issue for the competition authorities, Branson says, is the market dominance that a combined BA/AA would have in individual markets. There are six Heathrow routes on which BA and AA overlap and where competition would be reduced: New York JFK, Chicago, Boston, Miami, Los Angeles, and DFW. Branson notes in passing that Democrat Obama represents Illinois, “a state where many workers are employed by American at Chicago O’Hare airport. The possible alliance will place thousands of jobs under threat.”

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