Were glad to see that the Justice Dept.
still has an antitrust division and still expects some of the
antitrust laws to apply to some of the airlines, some of the time.
And we think the
antitrust division was quite correct to advise the Transportation
Dept. that giving near-global antitrust immunity to Northwest and
Delta, as part of an expanded SkyTeam alliance, is not a good
Over the years, the
Transportation Dept. has granted antitrust immunity to 20-odd joint
ventures and partnerships involving various U.S. and foreign
airlines, allowing them to fix prices, split profits, divvy up
markets, and engage in other sorts of collusion that would land
most business executives in jail.
The DOT has done so
on the theory that immunity allows airlines to join their
end-to-end networks in alliances to produce consumer benefits that
are otherwise unattainable. Any harm to competition, it is argued,
would be offset by these expanded networks and by the existence of
open-skies agreements in international markets that permit other
airlines to launch new services freely.
worked fine until Air France bought KLM. Air France was already a
partner with Delta in SkyTeam, and KLM was already part of a
competing alliance with Northwest.
alliance is, in effect, getting absorbed into the competing SkyTeam
group. To hear SkyTeam tell it, Northwest needs immunity to be a
fully coordinated worldwide partner with its former competitors Air
France, Delta, Alitalia and all the rest.
The Justice Department isnt
As the departments
antitrust division laid it out, Northwest and Delta operate
overlapping networks, and the result of a global grant of antitrust
immunity would be a certain reduction in competition, with
uncertain benefits to consumers.
Even if the
carriers could make the case that Northwest needs immunity to
participate in the alliances main transatlantic ventures, theres
scant justification for giving Delta and Northwest blanket
antitrust immunity on routes linking U.S. points with points in
Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Asia.
beleaguered airline industry. Not only is it forced to put up with
bottom-feeding passengers, high fuel prices, strikes and
bankruptcies, but now the Bush administrations Justice Dept. wants
it to actually adhere to the antitrust laws. Oh, the
The hotel industry is enjoying good times
these days, and new lifestyle brands are busting out all over.
contender is Alden. Like other recent upstarts, the Alden brand
promises to be high on style and service, and even higher on
comfort. The theme is easy living.
always said they want their guests to feel at home. Even when their
hotels didnt look or feel particularly homey or residential, good
proprietors could manage to make people feel welcome.
Todays emphasis on
niches, style and ambience will go a long way toward making many
guests feel like they are not at a hotel, and thats great -- but
were beginning to wonder if anybody needs to be reminded that its
also OK for a hotel to look and feel like a hotel.
It still is, isnt