Oneworld believes there is a case for its primary members British Airways and American Airlines to attempt again to seek anti-trust immunity, given the changing air services arena between Europe and the USA.
American and BA gave up pursuing immunity in 2002 after competition regulators insisted that 224 slots at London Heathrow would have to be freed for the tie-up to be approved.
But Oneworld managing partner John McCulloch points out that 280 transatlantic slots were opened at the UK hub during the last flying season. “Our group would argue that the slot penalty to be given up at Heathrow is no longer appropriate,” he says, adding it would “make sense to revisit” the immunity issue.
BA has been allocated 3,950 slots at Heathrow for the summer 2008 season, some 41% of the total available, while American has 250.
Both carriers are in discussions over potential co-operation with SkyTeam’s Continental Airlines, which has been considering its options over future partnerships since the Delta Air Lines-Northwest Airlines merger was unveiled.
Negotiations with Continental reached “an advanced stage very quickly”, says McCulloch, but have “slowed down in the last couple of weeks” as the US economic and consolidation situations shake out. “An alliance decision is secondary to with whom you’re going to merge,” he adds.
Source: Flightglobal.com's sister premium news site Air Transport Intelligence news
Source: Flight International