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Antitrust Division, DOT Still at Odds in Airline Alliance
Posted By Aruna Viswanatha On October 27, 2009 @ 6:28 pm In News | Comments Disabled
American Airlines and British Airways will have to wait longer to get a green light from antitrust regulators on their proposed alliance to schedule, price, and market flights jointly, according to a story  this morning in the Wall Street Journal.
The delay, the Journal said, comes because the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division and the Department of Transportation have not resolved their differences over the competitive aspects of the deal.
A ruling, originally due on Oct. 31, will be pushed back for at least two weeks, according to the Journal’s unnamed sources.
“There are some long standing and deeply ingrained differences in approach between the Justice Department and the Transportation Department,” Kenneth Quinn, a former DOT lawyer and current co-head of the aviation practice at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, said in an interview with Main Justice.
While Justice tends to focus on competition in specific flights–JFK to Heathrow, for example–the Transportation Department looks at the broader implications and connections between flights for travelers, Quinn said.
The inter-agency fight is a repeat of disagreements over a similar deal that Continental struck with nine airlines in the Star Alliance earlier this year. Then, White House economic advisor Lawrence Summers was called in to mediate. Maybe he should expect another call. “I wouldn’t be surpised to see this also come to a head,” Quinn said.
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