Sir - Am I the only person to have identified a huge degree of inconsistency recently among European Commission (EC) Transport Commissioner Neil Kinnock and his cohorts in Brussels of competitive issues?

As an example, following the Office of Fair Trading report into the proposed alliance between American Airlines and British Airways (and the provisional go-ahead by then Board of Trade president Ian Lang), I seem to remember EC Competition Commissioner Karel Van Miert's concern that the proposal was "anti-competitive" and "an abuse of a dominant position". He threatened court interjection.

I also remember his apparent anger and embarrassment when BA's Bob Ayling pointed out that it was purely a matter for the national governments to give any green light; that it would be subject to a wider UK/US open-skies agreement in any case; and that there evidently had been no "anti-competitive" questions from Brussels about other major European/US alliances, involving Lufthansa-SAS/United, Sabena-Swissair-Austrian/Delta and KLM/Northwest.

Van Miert rejected the idea of the wider concept of a European/ US market in competition analysis, in favour of country-by-country consideration.

Why has there not been so much as a squeak from Kinnock or Van Miert upon the recent announcement that Austrian Airlines is to acquire a major stake in Lauda Air, ? Austrian now has ownership control over the three largest Austrian carriers.

Given the continued involvement of Lufthansa in Lauda, the level of competition to, from and within Austria must be severely curtailed.

What now, Mr Kinnock?

Claydon William

Norwich, Norfolk, UK


Source: Flight International