DOT OK's Antitrust Immunity

Despite objections by the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) and the Business Travel Coalition (BTC), the Department of Transportation (DOT) granted antitrust immunity to Delta Air Lines, Northwest Airlines and four of their international partners to combine their transatlantic operations in an expanded SkyTeam alliance.

The DOT’s decision allows the two U.S. carriers, along with Air France, Alitalia, Czech Airlines and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, to coordinate their transatlantic fares, services and capacity as if they were a single carrier in these markets, subject to certain conditions.  Northwest has an existing alliance with KLM, while Delta has an existing alliance with Air France, Alitalia and Czech Airlines.

The DOT said the decision does not affect Delta’s and Northwest’s ongoing plans to merge. The merger plans are subject to a separate antitrust review by the Department of Justice. ASTA and the BTC opposed the antitrust immunity due to concerns with the alliances power over travel agents.

In approving antitrust immunity, the DOT said the proposed alliance is in the public interest because it features a proposed new and highly integrated joint venture that will likely produce efficiencies and provide consumers with additional price and service options. Visit www.dot.gov.

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