The U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao said on Friday (2 August) the Department has tentatively approved a request by Delta Air Lines, Air France, KLM, and Virgin Atlantic to launch an expanded joint venture for all services between the US and Europe.
The fresh JV would replace two previously approved arrangements in the U.S.-UK and U.S.-continental Europe markets.
If granted final approval, the new JV is set to offer consumers the same benefits from the prior JVs, such as increased capacity and frequent flyer cooperation, as well as new benefits such as more options on European flights.
The proposed action by the Department is described in a Show Cause Order that tentatively approves the JV and tentatively makes a grant of antitrust immunity to enable the carriers to implement the arrangements.
The order includes conditions that will protect competition, promote public benefits such as additional flights and increased seat availability, and enable the Department to monitor the effects of the JV for consumers.
The Department is proposing the carriers report annually on the progress of their commercial cooperation and provide a detailed assessment after five years. This would undergo a comprehensive, data-driven review by the Department and focus on key competition issues identified in the Show Cause Order.