US authorities urged to "act cautiously"
Two US senators have joined the growing unease over the application by American Airlines, BA and Iberia for anti-trust immunity (ATI).
Herb Kohl and Orrin Hatch, chairman and senior member respectively of the Senate anti-trust sub-committee, said the application "raises significant competition issues."
In a letter to Ray LaHood, the US transport secretary and Department of Justice anti-trust chief Christine Varney, the two senators urged him to "act cautiously."
They said the application should only be approved if it would not "significantly harm competition."
The move by the two senators comes a day after the US Allied Pilots Association (APA) which has 11,500 members at AA, announced its "unequivocal opposition" to the application.
The EC has also expressed concern over the competitiveness on certain routes, said to include Heathrow to Miami and Dallas, if the application were granted.
The APA said its fears centred on lack of job security, anti-competitiveness and national security issues.
In their letter, Mr Kohl and Mr Hatch said: "While not expressing any views on the ultimate merits of this application, we believe this alliance application raises significant competition issues."
Captain Lloyd Hill, APA's president, said: "Given those stated concerns, we question the advisability of granting approval to a deal that may fail to pass muster with the DOT's European counterparts."
The airlines' application is currently being considered by Mr LaHood's Department of Transportation (DoT)
It granted a similar ATI to continental Airline this year when its switch from the SkyTeam alliance to Star Alliance.
This was despite misgivings by Ms Varney.
The DoT has also granted similar applications for ATI for joint ventures on transatlantic routes to Star members Lufthansa and United Airlines and SkyTeam members Air France KLM and Delta Air Lines.
The DoT is expected to give its decision on the application by AA, BA and Iberia, all members of the oneworld alliance, later this year.
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