Tue, Mar 24, 2009
Protectionist Measure Would Halt Trans-Atlantic Alliances
Officials in the European Union are calling the bluff of
protectionist interests in the US Congress.
The US House has passed a version of FAA reauthorization which
pulls the US back from liberalized rules for marketing alliances
with foreign carriers. Dow Jones reports that John Bruton, the EU's
ambassador to Washington, has written to US Transportation
Secretary Ray LaHood, warning that the bill would "dangerously
impair" efforts to deregulate transatlantic airline service.
As ANN reported, House Transportation Chair
James Oberstar, a Minnesota Democrat, added language to the FAA
bill which would sunset existing antitrust immunity already granted
US airlines, task the Government Accountability Office with
evaluating the effects of such waivers on the marketplace, and make
the DOT come up with formal requirements for airlines seeking to
renew or create new alliances, both domestic and international.
DOT is currently reviewing anti-trust immunity applications
which would allow American Airlines and British Airways to enter
the 'oneworld' alliance, and another which seeks to allow
Continental to join United and Lufthansa in the Star Alliance.
Regarding the threat of tightened rules for partnering with
other carriers, Continental President Jeff Smisek told Dow Jones,
"I think Congressman Oberstar is off on a mission that is
detrimental to the airline industry."
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