Virgin head Richard Branson is pretty steamed at the DOT’s decision to allow the Oneworld transatlantic joint venture to go ahead with relatively few limits.
Branson criticized the DOT’s show cause order (discussed in this earlier blog) as “unbelievably only requiring four Heathrow slot pairs” to be given up. Virgin has pressed for the joint venture to be rejected, or at least for regulators to impose severe conditions to preserve competition.
Branson went on to say the initial decision “beggars belief,” and described the slot-pair remedy as “a complete joke and those responsible for this decision should hang their heads in shame.”
He says consumers will be hurt by the decision, and the DOT has “chosen to stick two fingers up at them.”
Virgin will consider the decision before making its formal response to the DOT. I imagine Branson’s language will be toned down a bit, but not his sentiments.
Meanwhile, American Airlines issued a very careful response, neither criticizing or applauding the decision. American said it will not be commenting in detail until it has had a chance to review the DOT ruling with its co-applicants.
However, the carrier reiterated that its proposed joint venture will benefit consumers, and allow it to compete better against the Star and SkyTeam alliances that already enjoy antitrust immunity.