DOT Approves Joint Venture For Delta, Air France, KLM and Virgin Atlantic
By Harvey Chipkin
The U.S. Department of Transportation has formally approved the joint venture proposed by Delta Air Lines, Air France, KLM and Virgin Atlantic Airways, tentatively approved in August, while agreeing with opponents of the arrangement that Alitalia would not be included in the deal. Delta previously had joint ventures with Air France, KLM and Alitalia, and another with Virgin Atlantic. The carrier argued that this new collaboration, including antitrust immunity (ATI), would enable the airlines to better coordinate their operations between the US and Europe. In its statement, DOT said the approved alliance would remove the current gaps preventing full coordination between Delta’s two existing immunized parallel joint ventures with Virgin on the one hand, and Air France/KLM on the other. JetBlue, an opponent of the joint venture, said in its comments that if the group wishes to collaborate with Alitalia in the future, it must submit a new application, and allow DOT to conduct a new and thorough review at that time. The DOT agreed with JetBlue’s assessment.