antitrust immunity

Today is the final filing day for those in opposition to the American Airlines/US Airways (AA/US) merger. The merger rules and regulations allow objectors to the settlement to file comments that must be addressed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) prior to the final approval of the merger. A collection of consumer groups, including the Consumer Travel Alliance, will be making such filings today.

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This weekend we look Delta’s schedule changes to Europe in conjunction with their Skyteam partner Air France-KLM. A frequent business traveler discusses his big travel gripes. Finally, AA improves its service after a horrible two weeks of cancellations and maintenance issues.

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Finally, a competition regulatory authority has taken action against the growing airline joint ventures. Nothing more than an attempt to totally control prices, scheduling, profits and marketing of airline routes, is now getting a closer look from the Canadian Commission on Competition.

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The airlines can claim a massive victory with their latest victory in the antitrust immunity grant to American, British Airways and Iberia as well as their other partners in Oneworld. They may now compare notes, fares, schedules and costs for their international routes.

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Strategies for getting hotel upgrades, Airlines apply for antitrust immunity in Japan, Boeing 787 tests reach halfway point

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Airline consolidation has been taking two tracks. First, airlines are merging. Second, antitrust immunity granted to airline alliances has created an international, government-approved oligopoly that controls 85 percent of the market.

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Perhaps even more important that the merger agreements being considered here in the U.S.A., mergers in Europe are changing the landscape of international travel. This consolidation was just punctuated by the BA/Iberia agreement last week. During the past year or so, Lufthansa’s purchased Swiss, Austrian, Brussels and bmi. And before that, Air France and KLM created a jointly run airline.

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Over the weekend, the Department of Transportatin (DOT) announced that they have given the oneworld Alliance provisional antitrust immunity. This brings oneworld into line with SkyTeam and Star Alliance and is the final nail in the coffin of advancing competition between scores of airlines in the international arena.

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In a bureaucratic battle between the Department of Transportation and the Department of Justice, members of the Senate Judiciary committee have raised their voices once again. They are warning about the pending antitrust immunity for the American Airlines/British Airways/Iberia OneWorld Alliance.

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What department within the federal government should have the final say about airline antitrust immunity? Two decades after the Department of Justice (DOJ) allowed the Department of Transportation (DOT) to rule on the first airline alliance that initially has minimal antitrust implications, the stakes are higher and the oligopoly bigger.

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