Star partners request antitrust carve-outs be dissolved

Washington DC
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Members in the Star Alliance holding transatlantic antitrust immunity have requested that US regulators dissolve carve out restrictions on certain routes currently not included in the group's immunised pairings.

Final approval issued by the Department of Transportation in July 2009 for the tie-up of Air Canada, Continental, Lufthansa and United to forge their joint venture required certain carve outs - cities exempted from antitrust immunity to preserve competition. At the same time, ten Star members also won broader antitrust immunity from regulators.

Carve outs included in the final order were service from New York to Copenhagen, Geneva, Stockholm and Lisbon, and flights from the USA to Beijing. Regulators explained the exclusion of those markets would be lifted once a new entrant entered the market with at least five roundtrips for nine consecutive months.

In a letter to DOT the Star members highlight that as of 27 February Delta Air Lines has operated New York to both Copenhagen and Stockholm for nine months, while American has introduced Chicago-Beijing flights and Delta has started new service from Seattle to Beijing.

The carriers state as of 25 February American had operated five weekly US-Beijing nonstops for the nine month period and as of 4 March Delta will also reach the nine month mark on its five weekly flights from Seattle to Beijing.

Star's members are requesting that as of 28 April those carve-outs should not longer be in effect.