The US Department of Transportation has granted antitrust immunity for Dublin-based Aer Lingus to join an existing transatlantic joint venture between Oneworld member carriers American Airlines, British Airways, Level, Iberia, and Finnair, finalising tentative approval granted in November.
This approval by the DOT gives Aer Lingus the ability to integrate into the joint venture’s network planning, pricing, and sales activities, giving the Oneworld carriers opportunity to expand capacity on certain routes and giving customers more options for travel to Ireland and other European destinations.
American in a statement praised the DOT decision published on 21 December, adding that Aer Lingus customers would have access to more than 200 new US destinations as part of the joint venture, which first formed in 2010.
Conditions set by the DOT to address any competition and public interest concerns include required compliance with slot remedies at London airports that exist as part of the Oneworld joint venture.
The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in September extended its airport slot remedy commitment an additional three years until March 2024 with the aim of stabilizing the airline sector in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, at which point it will reassess the Oneworld joint venture.
Aer Lingus and the other carriers must also remove exclusivity clauses in their alliance agreements and DOT will review the alliance again in 2025.
Aer Lingus aims to fly transatlantic routes using Airbus A321 aircraft. The Dublin-based carrier has five A321-200NXneo aircraft and three A321-200 aircraft in service, Cirium schedules data shows, and has nine firm orders for additional A321neos.