Delta CEO slams legislator attempts to dissolve anti-trust

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Delta Air Lines chief executive Richard Anderson says a portion of proposed FAA Reauthorization that aims to limit antitrust immunity among members of airline alliances is "not acceptable".

Anderson explained his frustration during a regular employee update saying that element of the legislation being proposed by the US House of Representatives would sunset existing alliances for three years.

Representative James Oberstar introduced the anti-trust portion now included in FAA Reauthorization as a stand-along bill in February. Now tagged onto the larger piece of legislation the language tasks the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a one-year study to determine if changes are necessary to existing policies government anti-trust immunity. After that DOT would review results and decide whether to adopt any proposed changes. Legislators reason the three-year expiration period for existing alliances after the bill's enactment is necessary to ensure that if GAO determines policy changes are needed, DOT has time to examine and implement them.

Anderson notes the pact between Delta's subsidiary Northwest and KLM that started in 1992 and the almost decade-old deal between Delta and Air France could be jeopardized.

He notes a customer can fly from Minneapolis to Amsterdam to almost anywhere else in the world on a single itinerary and use a single frequent flyer programme.

Citing Memphis-Amsterdam as an example the CEO stresses through those alliances Delta, who merged with Northwest in October 2008, can offer far more connections than it could on its own, especially in the current economic environment.