EU Eyes BA, American Airlines, Iberia Joint Venture

EU Eyes BA, American Airlines, Iberia Joint Venture

The European Union is assessing commitments made by British Airways, American Airlines and Spain's Iberia to obtain an anti-trust waiver to operate as a single passenger and cargo carrier on scores of transatlantic routes.

The EU's executive Commission said Monday it had received a proposal from the carriers, which are partners in the oneworld alliance, and is seeking comment from rival airlines.

"This proposal requires further investigation before the Commission reaches any conclusion as to the next steps," the Commission said.

The announcement that the Commission is consulting with other airlines is seen as a sign that the three carriers have moved closer to getting approval for their joint venture.

If the alliance is approved, the carriers would split revenues and profits and co-ordinate capacity, routes, fares and sales on services between the United States, Canada, Mexico, the 27-nation EU and Norway and Switzerland.

The Commission sent a "statement of objections" to the airlines in September expressing concern that the planned alliance would appreciably reduce competition on seven EU-U.S. routes including flights between London Heathrow and Miami and Dallas-Forth Worth.

The alliance also requires regulatory clearance from Washington.

This is the third time BA and American Airlines have sought the green light for a tie-up. In the previous attempt in 2001 they pulled out of a deal after U.S. regulators demanded they sell off scores of take off and landing "slots" at London Heathrow.

Contact Bruce Barnard at brucebarnard47@hotmail.com.