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Transport Chiefs Step Away from Airlines Merger

September 24, 2009 By: Jena Tesse Fox

The proposed tie-up between British Airways and American Airlines has hit a stumbling block after two senior U.S. transport chiefs have been stepped down from the decision-making process.

John Porcari, the deputy U.S. transportation secretary, and Ray LaHood, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, have been forced to rule themselves out of the decision whether to grant BA antitrust immunity. According to The Telegraph, Porcari signed a letter last November, before taking office, in support of the proposed alliance. The letter to former U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters was written while Porcari was in his previous role as Maryland Transportation Secretary.

It urged support for the BA/AA tie-up on the basis that it would boost traffic through Baltimore Washington International Airport. The letter claimed approval was “critical for the future growth of transatlantic travel” through the airport.

Porcari joins LaHood who exempted himself after saying that “these alliances are life-savers for airlines.”

The department has until October 31 to decide whether to approve the tie-up.

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