BA's plans for American Airlines alliance in setback - report:
Plans by British Airways PLC to forge a business alliance with AMR Corp's American Airlines suffered a setback last week when a key witness in the US government's investigation condemned the tie-up, the Sunday Telegraph reported.
The newspaper said Michael Levine, a Harvard law professor and the architect of US airline deregulation, attacked the proposals, telling the US government that the link would dramatically reduce competition in most markets between Heathrow and America.
In his submission to the US Department of Transport, Levine argued that the proposed tie-up between BA and AA should only go ahead if competitive access to Heathrow is guaranteed for the American partners of other global alliances.
He said that unless access to Heathrow for BA's competitors is dramatically improved, the partnership will result in a duopoly operating across the Atlantic, involving the BA/AA alliance and the similar proposed link between United Airlines and BMI British Midland.
"It is my view that the AA/BA filing...should be thwarted either by disapproving immunity or insisting on removing barriers to airport access by competitors," Levine was quoted as saying.
A BA spokesman, however, rejected Levine's claim that access to Heathrow is too restricted.
"It is not true that competitors can't get into Heathrow. United Airlines has massively increased its services out of Heathrow. Virgin Atlantic also now has a very signficant service," he said.
© AFX News
Story filed: 14:43 Sunday 2nd December 2001