ASTA objects to SkyTeam carriers' antitrust immunity

ASTA has asked the U.S. Department of Transportation to defer granting antitrust immunity to six airlines in the SkyTeam alliance.

In a 13-page objection, ASTA said it is concerned about potential price-fixing and unfair negotiating advantages over travel agencies.

SkyTeam carriers Alitalia, Czech Airlines, Delta, Air France, Northwest and KLM have tentatively received DOT approval to coordinate pricing, scheduling and distribution, and to pool costs and revenue.

ASTA added that it is not appropriate to grant the carriers antitrust immunity given that the Justice Department is reviewing the Northwest-Delta merger plan.

"If immunity is granted before the Justice Department inquiry has been completed into the Delta-Northwest merger and the airlines begin to implement the integration of their transatlantic operations, the competitive impact of the merger will be skewed, needlessly complicating the Justice Department analysis," ASTA said.

ASTA's objection also mentioned that the U.S. and European Union are undertaking a joint study of the effect of transatlantic joint ventures on consumers and competition, matters that are relevant to a grant of antitrust immunity.


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