Published on December 23rd, 2020 | by Alan Dwyer0
US DOT Approves Aer Lingus Addition to Oneworld Transatlantic Joint Venture
The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has granted final approval for Aer Lingus to join the existing transatlantic joint venture with American Airlines, British Airways, Finnair and Iberia. The decision provides antitrust immunity for the Irish carrier to cooperate within the so-called ‘Oneworld Transatlantic Joint Venture’, on network planning, pricing and sales activities. Approval comes nearly a year after Aer Lingus formally applied to the US department of transportation to join the Oneworld revenue-sharing venture, which its members claim will generate up to $96 million (€79 million) in annual consumer benefits. 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.
A statement release by the DOT said that 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.
There is currently 13 full member airlines with a further 12 affiliate members. The Alliance is based in New York and prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the alliance had a reach of over 3,500 aircraft from member airlines serving around one thousand airports across the world. Aer Lingus was previously a One World member from June 2000 until March 2007 when the airline underwent a major restructuring.