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US bars exclusivity in new Delta-Korean Air joint venture

US regulators are barring Delta Air Lines and Korean Air from being exclusive partners across the Pacific in the recent approval of the SkyTeam Alliance carriers' proposed joint venture.

Delta and Korean Air cannot limit either airline from codesharing with other carriers in the market under their new immunised partnership, the US Department of Transportation says in a letter to them on 17 November.

The move is a small win for Hawaiian Airlines and JetBlue Airways, which had pushed for a new and public review of the proposed tie-up. While the regulator denied their request for a new review, one of the conditions they asked for was barring any potential exclusivity clauses.

The joint venture was approved internally by the DOT under the antitrust immunity granted to Delta and Korean Air in 2002.

Hawaiian has a codeshare with Korean Air on the latter's flights to Bangkok and Busan from Seoul Incheon.

The DOT says the joint venture is "likely to be pro-competitive and beneficial to consumers in US-Asia markets", in the letter.

Delta and Korean Air say that with their new partnership they will be able to better compete with the immunised joint ventures between American Airlines and Japan Airlines (JAL), and United Airlines and All Nippon Airways (ANA).

The DOT, while approving the Delta-Korean deal behind closed doors, is requiring them to release details of "major areas of their cooperation" under their joint venture on the public record, the letter says.

However, they do not have to do so until implementation of the partnership, which is not expected until later in 2018.

The joint venture still requires approval of South Korean regulators.

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