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"Concerns over key US routes"
EU regulators have outlined their objections to the proposed transatlantic tie-up between British Airways, Iberia and American Airlines.
BA today (October 2) confirmed it had received a legal "statement of objections" from the EU late last night.
Objections are understood to include concerns over competition on several key US routes including London Heathrow to Miami and Dallas.
A spokesperson for BA told ABTN the EU's review of its supporting evidence and its contents was "anticipated".
But the airline would not confirm the contents of the confidential legal document.
BA said its team of lawyers was now in the process of assessing the EU's concerns and would issue a response in due course.
BA said all proceedings were going on "behind closed doors" and no time-frame for a final EU decision could yet be given.
"We have received the EU's statement of objections and look forward to the opportunity to address and overcome the EU's concerns, especially given the substantial benefits for consumers that would result from our transatlantic joint business," BA said in a statement today.
Virgin Atlantic welcomed the EU's objections and labelled the proposed tie-up an "anti-competitive alliance."
"The European Commission's concerns are absolutely justified," Virgin's ceo Steve Ridgway said.
"This alliance between BA and AA is a monster monopoly which, if given the go-ahead, will allow these dominant carriers to increase their stranglehold at Heathrow by setting prices and agreeing schedules."
Virgin claimed BA and AA together would control 62% of all capacity between Heathrow and New York JFK, 100% on routes to Dallas Fort Worth and 80% of routes to Logan International, Boston.
Virgin also urged US regulators to "examine critically" BA's claims that an alliance with AA would increase competition.
The US Department of Transportation (DoT) is continuing its review of the transatlantic partnership and a final ruling is expected by the end of October, BA said.
BA said a tie-up between the three airlines would put oneworld on a level playing field with rival airline alliances Star Alliance and SkyTeam.
BA said airlines belonging to Star Alliance and SkyTeam had been granted DoT anti-trust immunity (ATI) for similar partnerships despite increasingly large shares of transatlantic traffic.
Earlier this year the DoT granted ATI to Continental Airlines, now a member of the Star Alliance.
Star Alliance members Lufthansa and United Airlines already operate a joint transatlantic venture.
www.ba.com www.iberia.com www.aa.com