Members of the US Department of Transportation's staff are downplaying any strife with the country's Justice Department in the review of a request for transatlantic anti-trust immunity from American, BA and Iberia, and calls any perceived disagreement in a similar approval for Star members unfounded.
During the ACI-NA International Aviation Issues Seminar today in Washington, DC DOT deputy assistant secretary for aviation and international affairs Christa Fornarotto said it was "unfortunate" the agency missed a 31 October deadline to rule on the anti-trust application submitted by the Oneworld alliance members. But she stresses the department is working "double and triple" time to complete the review, and to ensure any outcome benefits the consumer.
Two months after DOT issued tentative approval anti-trust immunity to allow Star members Air Canada, Continental, Lufthansa and United to form a joint venture and approved anti-trust immunity for ten members of the grouping, Justice countered that granting blanket immunity would weaken competition on several routes.
DOT's final approval did require additional carve outs -city pairs excluded from immunity-in its final approval anti-trust approval.
Fornarotto dismisses any perceived friction between the two agencies as hype, explaining the two departments have "very different statutory mandates". She says the departments work closely together, and Justice speaks to DOT frequently while sharing its research with the transportation department.
On the sidelines of the seminar American SVP of government affairs Will Ris said the cooperation between the two agencies could be one reason for why a decision has not been issued.
Ris says the American is less concerned about the speed of decision, and more focused on a positive outcome.