Thursday, August 13, 2009
Sir Richard Branson won't quit. His public campaign against the pending approval and antitrust immunity for oneworld Alliance carriers British Airways, American Airlines, and Iberia has now turned toward direct appeal to U.S. President Barack Obama. According to a letter from Branson to Obama:
Never before has the US government approved an anti-trust immunity application where barriers to entry are so significant that any new meaningful competitive entry is virtually impossible[.]
If their proposals were to be approved, AA-BA would have a monopoly, or near monopoly, on some of the busiest and most profitable routes from the US to Europe.
AA-BA are seeking ATI authority to jointly set prices and co-ordinate capacity and schedules because it will enable them to squeeze existing US-Heathrow competitors off key routes. If AA-BA win, it will be an unprecedented loss for consumers.
See Alistair Osborne, Sir Richard Branson's Plea to Barack Obama, Telegraph, Aug. 13, 2009 (available here) (quotation marks omitted).
Branson also has an op-ed piece in the Telegraph decrying the link-up. See Dinosaurs BA and AA Should Not Be Given a Free Meal Ticket to Merge, Aug. 12, 2009 (available here).