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Star partners apply for transpacific antitrust immunity

Roughly a week after Japan and the US reached a historic open skies agreement, Star Alliance members All Nippon Airways (ANA), Continental Airlines and United Airlines filed a request to receive antitrust immunity on US transpacific flights.

Japan has stated that finalising the agreement is contingent on its two main carriers ANA and Japan Airlines (JAL) securing antitrust approval with their respective US partners.

In a statement the Star members say the proposed joint venture they intend to launch after winning antitrust immunity will be the first between the US and Asia.

By gaining antitrust immunity the Star partners are allowed to jointly manage scheduling, pricing and sales on transpacific routes.

JAL is still determining if it will seek antitrust immunity with Delta Air Lines or American Airlines. American has partnered with venture capital firm TPG to offer JAL a $1.1 billion financing package while Delta and some members of SkyTeam have offered $1 billion to the struggling carrier.

JAL's selection of Delta would mean Oneworld would lose a key strategic partner in Asia.

Members of both American and Delta's executive management teams have been in Tokyo recently to meet with JAL and Japanese government officials in an attempt to influence JAL's decision.

Recently an official with the US government said that depending on how swiftly the Department of Transportation moves on antitrust applications, the open skies agreement could be finalised between August and October of next year.

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