Continental Airlines Wins Antitrust Immunity from DOT

Continental Airlines won antitrust immunity Friday from the U.S. Department of Transportation, joining other Star Alliance member carriers. The airline will now be able to coordinate international fares, services and capacities with the other eight Star Alliance members who have won immunity: Air Canada, Austrian, bmi, Lufthansa, LOT Polish Airlines, Scandinavian Airlines, SWISS and TAP Air Portugal.

The antitrust immunity decision has been challenged by several parties on the road to its completion, including ASTA, the International Travel Services Association and Attorney General Eric Holder, under the concern that ATI would lead to a monopolization of the industry. But representatives from the airlines have said that this immunity will actually make competition possible between the Star Alliance and SkyTeam alliance.

"We are pleased to receive final approval from the Department of Transportation," said Larry Kellner, Continental's chairman and CEO. "Continental is working to provide a seamless transition for its customers from the SkyTeam alliance to Star Alliance this fall. The DOT decision greatly benefits our customers, employees and shareholders. It ensures global competition with other antitrust immunized alliances while encouraging the retention and growth of open skies between the U.S. and other nations."

The Air Transport Association of America supported Friday's DOT decision.

"We applaud DOT for its approval of this agreement and for recognizing that alliances offer significant benefits to the traveling and shipping public," said ATA President and CEO James C. May. "This decision will increase current levels of service while preserving jobs for thousands of airline employees."