U.S. Department of Transportation Tentatively Grants Antitrust Immunity to American Airlines and Japan Airlines
Airlines Will Enter Into Joint Venture After Final DOT Order is Issued and Japan Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Grants Approval
FORT WORTH, Texas and TOKYO, Oct. 6 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- American Airlines and Japan Airlines, both members of the oneworld® Alliance, today welcomed an order issued by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) tentatively approving the antitrust immunity application filed by the two airlines in February.
By this action, the DOT has moved another step closer to granting antitrust immunity to the two airlines as allowed under a provision of the Open Skies agreement initialed by the United States and Japan last December. Open Skies allows new service between the U.S. and Tokyo International Airport at Haneda (HND).
American will begin daily flights between New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Haneda on Jan. 20, 2011, while Japan Airlines will commence daily flights between Haneda and San Francisco (SFO) as well as Honolulu (HNL) starting Oct. 31, 2010.
Under an immunized agreement, the two airlines will cooperate commercially on flights between North America and Asia while continuing to operate as separate legal entities. Consumers will benefit by, among other things, improved schedule and routing choices, and will continue to receive reciprocal frequent flyer benefits and airport lounge access. Employees and shareholders also will benefit as the airlines will have greater ability to sustain existing service and launch new routes, and improve their overall competitive position.
Obtaining antitrust immunity for their proposed trans-Pacific joint business will allow American Airlines and Japan Airlines to better compete with the two other global alliances that serve the United States – Asia market.
"An immunized joint business will benefit the U.S. and Japanese economies, promote increased cultural exchange and provide more travel choices and greater access to discounted fares for millions of consumers," said Will Ris, American's Senior Vice President – Government Affairs. "Once DOT and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of Japan issue final approvals for the joint venture, then officials from the U.S. and Japanese governments will sign the Open Skies agreement.
"American is appreciative of the support its application received from Senate Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin of Illinois and Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas," said Ris. "We also thank the Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, for his consistent support of alliances.
"And we thank the 18,000-member Association of Professional Flight Attendants and the 25,000-member Transport Workers Union of America who submitted letters of endorsement to DOT," Ris added.
"We appreciate that DOT recognizes the value in our application. Upon receiving immunity, Japan Airlines and American Airlines will cooperate more closely with the common goal of serving our customers better," said Tsutomu Ando, Executive Officer of International Affairs at Japan Airlines. "These new opportunities afforded by developments in the aviation landscape in Japan will allow us to optimize flight schedules, pricing, and enhance operational efficiency to ultimately benefit the customers."