Cases & Deals

American Airlines wins antitrust approval for joint venture with British Airways and Iberia

Client(s) American Airlines, Inc.

Jones Day represented American Airlines, Inc. in its long-sought expansion of the oneworld alliance through a revenue-sharing joint venture with British Airways and Iberia Líneas Aéreas de España, S.A., the flag carrier airline of Spain. Jones Day advised American on regulatory strategies before both the U.S. Department of Transportation and the European Commission. Both authorities in July 2010 granted antitrust immunity allowing American, British Airways, and Iberia to offer joint products and coordinate fares, schedules, and capacity, intensifying competition with other global alliances. The regulators also cooperated to develop a harmonized remedies package, marking a first for airline alliance approvals and a significant step towards achieving goals of the 2007 U.S./EU "Open Skies" agreement.

The favorable decision for oneworld follows the carriers' third application since 1997. Each time, significant opposition ensued from parties contending that insufficient slots were available at London's Heathrow Airport for competitors seeking U.S.-EU market entry. Although Virgin Atlantic voiced these objections, the agencies found that an expanded oneworld alliance would significantly benefit consumers on both sides of the Atlantic. Jones Day lawyers in Washington and Brussels advised American on the complex regulatory and antitrust issues presented by this matter.