DOJ Slams DOT’s Tentative Star Alliance Antitrust Approval
The U.S. Department of Justice in a filing on Friday vigorously criticized the Department of Transportation’s tentative approval of Continental Airlines’ request for antitrust immunity with nine Star Alliance carriers. DOJ’s filing not only further delays final approval, but could derail the immunity effort.
Continental last year laid out its plan to leave SkyTeam to tightly align with nine Star carriers through the immunity request, which was fortified by a proposed joint venture with Air Canada, Lufthansa and United (BTNonline, June 30, 2008).
The United States Attorney General Eric Holder earlier this month recommended U.S. authorities not grant antitrust immunity to Star Alliance members until DOJ finished its review of transatlantic airline competition.
DOJ in the filing dated June 26 concluded, “The immunity requested by the joint applicants is unprecedented in scope and breadth, sanctioning collusion by United and Continental on all international service, eliminating or significantly reducing competition between certain Star alliance members on routes where they provide the only?or almost all of?the competitive alternatives, and removing previously imposed protections designed to preserve competition on overlap routes.”
DOT in a separate filing said it would give interested parties until July 6 to comment on DOJ’s analysis, after which DOT would proceed in issuing a final order.
Continental in a statement today said it remains “confident that DOT will approve our application.”
Source: (2009). DOJ Slams DOT’s Tentative Star Alliance Antitrust Approval , BT Online http://www.btnonline.com/businesstravelnews/headlines/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003988767 published Jun 29, 2009. Viewed June 30, 2009,