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Competition: European Commission and U.S. Department of Transportation Publish Joint Report on Transatlantic Alliances

The European Commission and United States Department of Transportation (DOT) have published a report on the role of alliances in the market for transatlantic air services.  The report completes a joint research project aimed at developing a greater understanding of airline alliances and the separate regulatory approaches applied by each agency to address competitive issues.

The report examines the competitive structures of the airline industries in Europe and the United States and compares the respective legal regimes and analytical frameworks applied by the Commission and DOT.  The report concludes that the competitive structures of the airline industries are similar.  Despite important differences in legal regimes, the report finds that there is scope for the Commission and DOT to work towards the promotion of compatible regulatory approaches as specified in Annex 2 to the EU-U.S. Air Transport Agreement, to achieve pro-competitive outcomes for consumers and the airline industry.

The EU-U.S. Air Transport Agreement – provisionally applied as of March 2008 – enhanced competition in the transatlantic market by allowing, for the first time, EU or U.S. airlines to serve any routes between Europe and the United States. It also called for the Commission and DOT to develop a common understanding of trends in the airline industry in order to promote cooperation on competition issues. The joint research project was a first step in this process.

The project was launched in March 2008. The Commission and DOT staff conducted joint interviews with airlines and airline alliances, and commissioned quantitative analysis of traffic and fare data.

The project marks a step forward in the regulatory cooperation between the Commission and DOT.

This press release has been issued by the EC and can be found on that agency’s official website at http://europa.eu/press_room/index_en.htm.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010