While Sir Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin Atlantic, has demonstrably spoken out against granting antitrust immunity to the oneworld airlines, nearly 500 public officials in the U.S. have sent letters of their own to the Department of Transportation (DOT) in which they encourage the move. The officials state that businesses, consumers and communities they represent all will benefit from the proposed arrangement among American Airlines, British Airways, Iberia Airlines, Finnair and Royal Jordanian.
The five airlines today announced that they have filed letters of support from elected and public officials from 47 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico with the DOT, which is expected to issue its decision by October 31. The airlines are also working with the European Union through its regulatory process and remain hopeful that they will be in a position to proceed with implementation by the end of this year.
U.S. support at the federal level includes 28 senators and 133 representatives. At the state and local level, 43 governors and lieutenant governors, representing more than 83 percent of the U.S. population, and 110 mayors who represent an aggregate population of more than 37 million, have written in support of the airlines' effort to gain approval to work more closely together and compete more effectively with other alliances that already have received immunity.
"Approval of American Airlines, British Airways, and Iberia's pending application will give consumers more travel options, increase competition for international travel and create jobs in Illinois," said Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin, D-IL. "I stand with airports and businesses across Illinois in supporting this alliance and the economic activity it stands to create."
"Putting oneworld on an equal footing with other airline alliances is vital and will be a positive for Fort Worth. More competition among airline alliances will bring more travel choices with a combined route network and provide more seamless service among American, British Airways and Iberia," said U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, R-TX. "It will also provide travelers with more opportunities to earn and redeem frequent flyer miles on flights worldwide."
The application is also supported by 129 U.S. airports representing more than half of all departures from airports within the 50 states, as well as the Puerto Rico Ports Authority and the Manchester Airport Group in the UK.
With the 499 letters from elected and public officials and airports announced today, the alliance has received a grand total of 3,382 letters for support from 47 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Previously filed were 2,883 letters from 521 corporations and small businesses, 615 travel industry organizations, and 356 other groups such as non-profits and chambers of commerce.