They say there's always two sides to an argument. I hope Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. and bmi british midland will be involved as well. Not very good for competition is it???
US rivals call for hearing on BA-American deal
By Peter Spiegel in Washington
Published: November 19 2001 19:40 | Last Updated: November 19 2001 20:11
US rivals to the proposed alliance of British Airways and AMR's American Airlines on Monday asked the US Department of Transportation to hold a judicial hearing on the deal, arguing that much of the evidence in the case is in dispute and must be evaluated by an independent arbiter.
In a filing with the agency, Delta, Continental and Northwest airlines noted that a similar hearing was held four years ago when BA and American first applied for alliance approval and said the complexity of the issues had not changed.
"The department has received thousands of pages of conflicting documentary evidence," the airlines said. "Without the opportunity for an oral hearing and cross examination, the department has no reliable means to assess the credibility of the witnesses."
The alliance's opponents have grown more concerned in recent weeks that the Bush administration is poised to approve the deal to get a new air liberalisation treaty with the UK. The British government has signalled that it will quickly accede to American demands on a new "open skies" agreement - which would allow all US airlines to fly into London's Heathrow airport - if the BA-American alliance is granted immunity from US antitrust laws.
"The transportation department seems intent on sacrificing competition on the altar of open skies, and doing so as quickly as possible," said Larry Kellner, the president of Continental.
The BA-American alliance - like similar partnerships between UAL's United Airlines and Lufthansa, and KLM and Northwest - must gain antitrust immunity for the carriers to share revenues and pricing information.
The transportation department wants to act quickly on the BA-American application, saying the US has a "unique opportunity" to sign an open-skies deal.
The European Court of Justice is expected to strip authority to sign bilateral aviation treaties from member states early next year, which would make it impossible for the US and UK to rework their current deal, called Bermuda II, one of the most restrictive in the aviation industry