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The U.S. Department of Transportation has granted final
approval for antitrust immunity for Delta Air Lines and Aeromexico's proposed
joint venture but held firm on a slot divestiture requirement the carriers have
said was unpalatable.
The final order included a condition that the carriers
divest 24 daily transborder slots from Mexico City's Benito Juarez
International Airport and four transborder slots at New York's John F. Kennedy
International Airport. Compared with the DOT's tentative
approval, issued in November, the agency removed two slots from those that
must go at JFK, but the Mexico City number did not change. "The department
found these conditions necessary to prevent harm to consumers that would result
from the carriers' dominant positions at [Mexico City] and JFK and the
inability of new entrant carriers to access slots at the airports," the
DOT said in its decision.
Delta had filed an objection to the preliminary order. While
the carriers already had agreed to cede eight slots in Mexico City to comply
with Mexican regulators, the JV "may not be economically viable" with
the additional divestitures, Delta said in its objection.
carriers now have seven business days to accept or reject the conditions
offered by the DOT. Should they agree, the slots would be divested over the
spring and fall of 2017.
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