United eyes anti-trust approval in May

Washington DC
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Star alliance member United Airlines expects the anti-trust immunity approval process for the four members seeking that protection to move quickly.

The carrier expects to receive final DOT approval next month for a transatlantic joint venture with future Star member Continental Airlines and current members Air Canada and Lufthansa, UAL president and CEO Glenn Tilton said during an investors call today.

The airlines received tentative anti-trust immunity on 7 April to jointly arrange capacity, sales and marketing.

Since DOT announced the tentative approval, the European Commission (EC) unveiled anti-trust investigations into the proposed tie-up, focusing its examination on planned co-opearation on transatlantic routes.

The Commission intends to determine whether such efforts breached European Union rules, but United appears unphased by the proceeding.

"I don't want to say this is routine, but it is a step in the process we expected," United COO John Tague says.

In addition to concerns raised by the EC, US Congressman James Oberstar has introduced legislation that would require a three-year expiration period of current anti-trust pacts if the proposed FAA Reauthorization introduced by the US House of Representatives is enacted.

The proposed anti-trust bid by Oneworld carriers American, British Airways and Iberia is also under study by the European Commission,

SkyTeam carriers Delta Air Lines, Northwest Airlines, Air France and KLM secured anti-trust immunity in 2008.