U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao announced that the Department has tentatively approved a request by Delta Air Lines, Air France, KLM, and Virgin Atlantic to launch an expanded joint venture for all services between the United States and Europe.
The expanded joint venture would replace two previously approved arrangements in the U.S.-United Kingdom and U.S.-continental Europe markets.
If granted final approval, the new joint venture will offer consumers the same benefits from the prior joint ventures, such as increased capacity and frequent flyer cooperation, as well as new benefits such as more options on European flights.
The proposed action by the Department is described in a Show Cause Order that tentatively approves the joint venture and tentatively makes a grant of antitrust immunity to enable the carriers to implement the arrangements.
The Show Cause Order includes conditions that will protect competition, promote public benefits such as additional flights and increased seat availability, and enable the Department to monitor the effects of the joint venture for consumers.
The Department is proposing that the carriers report annually on the progress of their commercial cooperation and provide a detailed assessment after five years. This would undergo a comprehensive, data-driven review by the Department and focus on key competition issues identified in the Show Cause Order.