So, the Justice Dept. doesn’t like the AA/BA application, eh? No surprise there, they have been signaling that for months. But the timing of their filing raises some interesting questions.
Just to catch everyone up, DOJ today filed its official objections to the AA/BA (alright, and Iberia too) joint venture. The three have asked for antitrust immunity to pool resources on transatlantic routes. A broader application was also filed for expanded code-sharing between these three and fellow Oneworld carriers Royal Jordanian and Finnair. It is, of course, up to the U.S. Transportation Dept. to make the final decision.
Here’s the interesting bit – DOJ and DOT have been in talks for several weeks to try and hammer out a decision they were both happy with. If you ask me, the DOJ’s latest filing indicates they couldn’t find common ground. It’s well-known that DOJ is far less happy about AA/BA than the DOT is.
The other thing this possibly signals is that an initial decision from DOT is not far away – after all, if DOT and DOJ aren’t talking about it anymore, what else could hold it up? My money is on DOT issuing a show cause order that is far less critical than DOJ’s filing. However, DOT would be hard-pressed to brush off everything DOJ recommended (carveouts, slot divestitures), so there will likely be some kind of conditions in the DOT decision. The question is, will they be token or significant enough to shoot down the joint venture?