British Airways alliance compromise blasted as “woefully inadequate”

British Airways, American Airlines and Iberia’s offer to give up a number of lucrative trans-atlantic slots in a bid to gain EU antitrust immunity for their alliance has been blasted as “woefully indequate” by rival Virgin Atlantic.

Led by Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Atlantic says the proposals are “woefully inadequate” and would lead to higher prices for consumers.

It comes after The European Commission gave interested parties a month to comment on the concessions.

The three carriers, members of the Oneworld alliance, want to deepen the pact to take advantage of the U.S./EU “Open Skies” agreement.However the EC says this can only happen “if the market test confirms that the proposed commitments remedy the competition concerns.”

Such a decision would mean the Commission dropping its investigation and no fines levied on the companies.The airlines want to manage jointly schedules, capacity and pricing as well as share revenues on routes between North America and Europe.

The three airlines had offered to give up some landing and take-off slots for routes from London to Dallas, London to Boston, London to Miami and possibly London to New York should competitive conditions change.
The carriers also proposed to allow access to their frequent flyer programs on those routes as well as London-Chicago and Madrid-Miami, and submit data on their cooperation.

Howevr Branson blasted the offer, saying: “I continue to question why the Commission is even considering these proposals to try and put right the consumer harm of this monster monopoly when it does not seem to have any evidence of concrete consumer benefits.”

The Commission is also probing proposed alliances between members of Star Alliance, and members of SkyTeam, both rivals of Oneworld.

Meanwhile BA are awaiting news from trade union TUC over how badly affected they could be by industrial action, after talks to avert the strikes broke down last night.

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