American Airlines, British Airways, and Iberia Granted Final Government Approval on Trans-Atlantic Cooperation Bid
U.S. Department of Transportation Joins the European Union in Endorsing Joint Business oneworld Customers Now Gain Expanded Flight Networks, Improved Travel Choices and Services, and Enhanced Frequent Flyer Programs
Press Release Source: American Airlines On Tuesday July 20, 2010, 5:36 pm EDT
FORT WORTH, Texas, July 20 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- American Airlines, British Airways, and Iberia today received final approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to create a joint business governing flights between North America and Europe and will expand their global cooperation as a result of receiving antitrust immunity. Fellow oneworld® members Finnair and Royal Jordanian also received antitrust immunity from DOT. The European Union approved the joint business on July 14.
"This is an important day for the customers, employees and shareholders of American Airlines and our joint business partners in the oneworld alliance," said Gerard Arpey, Chairman and CEO of AMR Corp., the parent of American Airlines. "We are pleased that U.S. and EU regulators have approved our long-sought-after alliance proposal. We wish to thank all those who supported us in this effort, and we look forward to delivering enhanced competition for customers on trans-Atlantic flights. By working collaboratively with our oneworld partners, we will enhance our product offerings, strengthen our route networks, and better position our airlines to compete in the ever-changing global aviation marketplace."
"This is a great day for all three airlines and the oneworld alliance. We've waited 14 years to bring the benefits of the trans-Atlantic joint business to our customers and level the playing field with the other two global alliances," said British Airways Chief Executive Willie Walsh. "As we have argued all along, the EU-U.S. market is highly competitive and Heathrow's liberalization in 2008 opened it up even further. We are delighted that the U.S. and EU authorities have recognized this.
"We're pleased that the DOT and EU have worked together to ensure that there is consistency in the number of slots that the three airlines have to give up to our competitors to use on services from Heathrow to the U.S. We made the pragmatic decision to give up these slot pairs so that we can start operating the joint business as soon as possible."
"We are delighted we have received approval for our joint business, as it will be very positive for our employees, our shareholders and, most important of all, for our customers," said Iberia's Executive Chairman Antonio Vazquez. "A new kind of collaboration among our three airlines will lead to better service levels for our customers.
This means that our customers will have more destinations to choose from around the world, better scheduled travel times, better connections, and more competitive fares. I am convinced that consolidation is the best and only way to succeed in the airline industry, and the approvals we have received to create a joint business are a very important step towards this consolidation process."
"Besides DOT officials, who thoroughly reviewed our application, we'd like to thank Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin and House Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Jerry Costello, both of Illinois, Senator John Cornyn of Texas, as well as the nearly 500 elected and public officials from 47 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, who filed letters of support for our proposal, including Texas Governor Rick Perry," said Will Ris, American's Senior Vice President – Government Affairs.
"We also greatly appreciate the support expressed by the Transport Workers Union of America, Air Transport Division, which represents 26,000 workers at American and its regional affiliate, American Eagle; the Association of Professional Flight Attendants; and those American Airlines employees in London represented by UNITE the Union, Branch LE/2005, which sent letters to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and Members of Congress urging approval of the oneworld carriers' antitrust immunity application," said Ris.
"We also thank the more than 1,500 non-profit civic and community organizations and educational institutions, travel industry-related organizations, corporations, small businesses, and other for-profit organizations whose collective support demonstrates that global antitrust immunity will benefit consumers and communities in the United States and beyond," Ris added.
Under the joint business agreement, the three airlines will cooperate commercially on flights between the United States, Mexico and Canada, and the European Union, Switzerland and Norway while continuing to operate as separate legal entities. They will expand their codeshare arrangements on flights within and beyond the U.S. and European Union, significantly increasing the number of destinations that the airlines can offer customers.
The final DOT and EU decisions are a significant step toward strengthening customer choice because they will better position oneworld to compete in the global marketplace with other alliances that have already received trans-Atlantic antitrust immunity. Customers can travel more easily on the three airlines' combined route network that will serve 433 destinations in 105 countries with 5,178 daily departures, providing more frequent and convenient schedule options than any of the three carriers could offer individually.
By working together, the airlines will expand customer choice by supporting routes that would not be economically viable for a single airline. Customers also will receive numerous benefits, including expanded opportunities to earn and redeem frequent flyer miles and elite tier benefits and continued reciprocal airport lounge access.