The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has tentatively granted antitrust immunity for a joint venture between Delta, Air France-KLM and Virgin Atlantic. The trans-Atlantic joint venture is an expanded one and will replace two previous arrangements between Delta and Virgin Atlantic as well as Air France-KLM.
As always, there are opponents of joint ventures. Usually, other airlines that compete in the same markets will argue that the joint venture unfairly hurts their business. JetBlue Airways has argued that the expanded agreement would 'reduce and foreclose competition'. The airline goes on to argue that 'SkyTeam, Oneworld, and Star Alliance already have a commanding 90 percent market share of US-Europe air travel'. JetBlue also 'urged the DOT to be cautious due to uncertainty stemming from the UK's pending exit from the EU'.
Tentative approval was granted on Friday, August 2, and interested parties have 14 days to submit their comments. The DOT will then review all comments before making a final decision.
If approved, the involved carriers will be able to coordinate on prices and route schedules and to share revenue on flights between Europe and the United States. More US-Europe flight options on the table, of course. Delta revealed that the new joint venture will allow the airline to have a more extensive network of flights on both sides of the Atlantic.
The DOT shared that if final approval is granted, the new joint venture would allow for both increased capacity and enhanced frequent flyer cooperation between the carriers.
There are conditions in the approval to protect competition and promote public benefits such as increased seat availability and additional flights.