July 14, 2009
Virgin America Looks for New Investors
The Financial Times reported last week that Virgin America is seeking regulator approval to receive capital from a new group of U.S. investors. See Justin Baer, Virgin America Moves to Head Off Challenge, Fin. Times, July 10, 2009 (available here). The move comes in response to a petition filed earlier this year by Alaska Airlines, Virgin's chief rival, for the Department of Transportation to conduct a fresh review of whether the carrier still meets U.S. citizenship purity rules after its chief American investors reportedly sold their shares back to the U.K.-based Virgin Group. See previous discussion on the blog here, here, and here. No word yet as to when the DOT will render a decision on the matter.
July 13, 2009
Havel on DOT/DOJ Tensions
Prof. Brian Havel, Director of the International Aviation Law Institute, was quoted in Saturday's edition of the Chicago Tribune concerning the recent decision of the Department of Transportation to grant approval and broad (though not absolute) antitrust immunity for Continental Airlines to join the Star Alliance. See Julie Johnson, Continental OKd to Fly With United; Transportation Officials Prevail on Antitrust Issue, Chi. Tribune, July 11, 2009, at C12 (available here). On the matter of the Department of Justice's strong opposition to any broad grant of antitrust immunity to the venture, Havel stated that it amounts to "a great interagency battle." "The power that DOT has here is unprecedented. It definitely aggravates people at DOJ." No official word has yet come down from the Justice Department concerning the DOT's ruling.