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EU probes Oneworld, Star airline alliance pacts

THE European Commission launched two antitrust investigations today against certain members of the Star and Oneworld airline alliances on concerns their agreements on transatlantic routes might breach EU rules.

The probe relates to two sets of agreements between Star alliance members Air Canada, Continental, Lufthansa and United on the one hand, and between Oneworld members American Airlines, British Airways and Iberia on the other.

The regulatory watchdog of the 27-nation European Union said the agreements provided for the coordination of the airlines' commercial, marketing and operational activities principally on routes between the EU and North America.

"The level of cooperation in question appears far more extensive than the general cooperation between these airlines and other airlines which are part of the Star and Oneworld alliances," the Commission said in a statement.

"In particular, the parties to each agreement intend to jointly manage schedules, capacity, pricing and revenue management on transatlantic routes, as well as share revenues and sell tickets on these routes without preference between these carriers," it added.

The Commission said it would assess whether these joint activities may lead to restrictions of competition.

It added that the opening of proceedings did not imply that the Commission had conclusive proof of an infringement. The Commission said it had set no strict deadline on when to complete its investigation.


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