British Airways (BA) and American Airlines must continue to offer four daily airport slots on three UK-US routes to competitors until March 2026, the country’s Competition Regulator ruled on Tuesday.
The latest decision by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is part of the competition regulator’s investigation into the Atlantic Joint Business Agreement (AJBA), which involves the two oneworld alliance members.
The CMA began investigating the AJBA in 2018 to examine the joint venture’s impact on UK-US routes. Following the scrutiny, the regulator identified possible competition concerns on routes between London and each of Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Miami and Philadelphia.
In May 2020, the CMA consulted on a new set of binding commitments offered by BA and American to try to resolve the concerns. These included making slots available at London Heathrow or London Gatwick for up to 10 years as part of a wider package of measures.
However, as a result of the pandemic’s impact on transatlantic traffic, the CMA opted in September 2020 to impose interim measures until March 2024, when it expected the airline sector to be in a more stable position. The interim measures include the release of slots on the London-Boston, London-Dallas/Fort Worth and London-Miami city pairs. It had opened an investigation into the transatlantic joint-business agreement in October 2018, subsequently identifying potential competition concerns on these routes.
The government body has now extended this until March 2026 due to the continued impact of the pandemic and the fact that material recovery is taking longer than was anticipated in 2020.
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