Delta’s CEO sees status quo in foreign ownership

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Delta CEO Richard Anderson predicts that current foreign ownership laws in the US will not change, and suggests that immunized alliances supply similar benefits to stakes in US carriers held by foreign entities.

Responding to a question posed to him today about foreign ownership during the MRO Americas conference Anderson said: "Regardless of your view, I just don't think it will change."

He believes immunizes transatlantic and transpacific joint ventures among carriers "obviates the need" for a foreign carrier to take an ownership position in a US airline.

Delta, along with SkyTeam carries Northwest Airlines, Air France and KLM secured anti-trust immunity in 2008. Later that year Delta and Northwest merged.

Star Alliance members United, Lufthansa, Air Canada and prospective member Continental recently won tentative approval to conduct transatlantic operations under anti-trust immunity. But the European Commission has launched anti-trust proceedings related to the proposed tie-up.

European Union negotiators have repeatedly pushed for lifting of foreign ownership restrictions in Open Skies negotiations with the US. If negotiations for the second phase of the deal fail to produce a lifting of ownership caps, traffic rights secured in phase one can be withdrawn by either side.

Recently the lead negotiator for the US John Byerly cited legitimate concerns by labour groups surrounding foreign ownership that he believes need to be addressed.