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Brussels, 18 March 2008

Competition: European Commission and US Department of Transportation Launch Joint Research Project on Airline Alliances

The European Commission and U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) have launched joint research aimed at deepening their understanding of transatlantic air services. The research will explore the robust growth of airline alliances, the effect of alliances on airline competition, and possible changes in the role of alliances following the EU-US Air Transport Agreement (see IP/07/277). A final report summarising the main findings of the research will be published in mid-2009.

The EU-US Air Transport Agreement is expected to enhance competition by allowing, for the first time, EU or US airlines to serve any routes between Europe and the United States. The agreement will be applied as of the end of March 2008, pending ratification. It also calls for the Commission and DOT to develop a common understanding of trends in the airline industry in order to promote compatible approaches on competition issues. The joint research project is a first step in this process.

To conduct the research, the Commission and DOT expect to interview stakeholders, such as airlines, travel agents, industry analysts, and consumer groups, as well as perform quantitative analysis on traffic data. The research project will eventually allow the Commission and DOT to cooperate more effectively based on a common understanding of competition in trans-Atlantic markets and inform public discussions of the future of air transportation.

A press release regarding the launch of this joint research project has also been issued by US Department of Transportation and can be found on their official website For further information about the DOT press release please contact Bill Mosley (tel. + 011-202-366-5582).

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