The partnership will see the ’oneworld’ alliance expanded with combined pricing, sales and routes, but both airline brands would remain.
The airlines would be granted antitrust immunity if they handed over four pairs of runway slots at Heathrow, which would then be available to competitors.
The US Department of Transportation said yesterday (14 February) that the alliance would enhance competition in the airline industry “by creating competition with the existing Star Alliance and the SkyTeam alliance, which already have been granted immunity.”
If approval is granted, American and “oneworld” alliance partners British Airways, Iberia Airlines, Finnair and Royal Jordanian Airlines “would be able to more closely coordinate international operations in transatlantic markets,” the DOT said in a statement.
Sir Richard Branson, the owner of Virgin Group, which includes airline Virgin Atlantic, hit out at the decision saying that the proposed merger would be a “kick in teeth for consumers”.
The decision is subject to a final decision by the US Department of Justice.