The U.S. Department of Transportation announced that it has granted final approval of, and antitrust immunity for, the addition of Ireland-based Aer Lingus to the existing Oneworld transatlantic joint venture. The carriers requested antitrust immunity to include Aer Lingus in the existing joint venture consisting of American Airlines, British Airways, OpenSkies, Iberia, and Finnair. Aer Lingus will be integrated into the joint venture’s network planning, pricing, and sales activities. With Aer Lingus’ addition, the carriers are expected to expand capacity on some existing routes while introducing services on several new routes, allowing more options for travel to and from Ireland and the rest of Europe.
The action by the Department is described in a Final Order adopting the tentative decision published on November 16, 2020, which examined the impact on competition and the expected public benefits. As part of the final approval, the Final Order includes conditions to address concerns related to competition, to preserve consumer choice, to ensure that the grant of antitrust immunity is in the public interest, and to allow the Department to monitor and assess the benefits produced by the proposed joint venture.
Under the Final Order, the carriers are required to continue to comply with certain slot remedies at London airports that were imposed when the Oneworld transatlantic joint venture was initially approved in 2010, and as have been extended by the United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) while it completes its own investigation into the Oneworld transatlantic joint venture. In addition, the carriers are required to remove exclusivity clauses in their alliance agreements and to review the alliance after five years.