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US Regulators Clear Aer Lingus to Join Oneworld Transatlantic JV

DOT decision give the Irish carrier antitrust immunity to be part of the joint venture with American Airlines, British Airways, Finnair and Iberia

December 23, 2020

Aer Lingus has received final approval from the US Department of Transportation to join the Oneworld Transatlantic Joint Venture with American Airlines, British Airways, Finnair and Iberia.

The Irish carrier, which is owned by IAG, the parent company of British Airways and Iberia, applied to join the joint venture in 2018 and was given tentative approval last month.

The DOT decision give Aer Lingus antitrust immunity to cooperate within the JV on network planning, pricing and sales activities. The airline is also planning to launch its own transatlantic services from Manchester in summer 2021, after securing over 1,500 slots at the airport.

“The action by the Department is described in a Final Order adopting the tentative decision published on Nov. 16, 2020,” DOT said in a statement. “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.”

In September the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority extended the terms of the current IAG / American Airlines transatlantic join business agreement by three years, following an agreement by British Airways and American Airlines to give up a number of London-US slots to address competition concerns.

The ten-year agreement had been due for renewal this year, but having considered the commitments the CMA said that “the uncertainty created by the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic on the aviation sector” means that it would not be appropriate to accept them at this time.

“Aer Lingus welcomes the decision by the US Department of Transportation to grant antitrust immunity to enable us join the transatlantic joint business between American Airlines, British Airways, Iberia and Finnair,” Aer Lingus said in a statement.

“The addition of Aer Lingus’ Dublin hub and its complementary network will significantly enhance customers’ travel options and add new European destinations not currently served by any other transatlantic joint business. Aer Lingus’ customers will also obtain access to more than 200 new US destinations via the AJB network.”