Airways CEO Willie Walsh has confirmed that the carrier is in talks with Oneworld partner American
Airlines over forming a transatlantic joint venture agreement, and he expects
the two airlines to make a fresh application for antitrust immunity within the
next two weeks.
with American are “progressing very well” and are “taking place against the
backdrop of a changed regulatory environment”, says Walsh.
looking at concluding those discussions within the next two weeks and we expect
to move forward with an application for antirust immunity within the next two
is a joint venture between us on the transatlantic and I think it will
represent significant benefits to consumers, particularly in the area of
frequent flyer programmes.”
will be the third time BA and American have applied to US regulators for
antitrust immunity; previous attempts have been unsuccessful due to the two
carriers’ high proportion of slots at London Heathrow and dominance on the
Heathrow-New York route. But
Walsh is confident that things will be different this time because “the
landscape has changed out of all recognition to the last time we made an
application back in 2000/2001”.
planned joint venture between BA and American is “very much dependent on
getting antitrust immunity” and is therefore not expected to be in place in
time for next summer.
think it would be ambitious to expect that to happen by next summer and it
certainly won’t happen any earlier than that,” says Walsh. “We’d like to think
that it will happen as quickly as possible but I think it’s unlikely that we’d
get all of the approvals in place by summer 2009.”
does not see the planned antirust application being affected by the upcoming US presidential election,
and says: “If we can get our application filed before the end of August – and
as I said our expectation is to finish our discussions and file within the next
two weeks – it’s not going to be impacted by presidential elections in the US.”
factor Walsh believes will go in BA and American’s favour when they file for
antitrust immunity is that “clearly Oneworld
is at a disadvantage to SkyTeam and Star when it comes
to competition between the alliances”.
this year SkyTeam received antitrust immunity approval for a tie-up between
Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines and European carriers Air France,
Alitalia, Czech Airlines and KLM.
United Airlines, Lufthansa and Air Canada
are also attempting to add Continental Airlines to their existing transatlantic
immunity when the carrier joins the alliance from SkyTeam.