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Brussels, 2 nd October 2009

Antitrust: Commission confirms sending Statement of Objections to three members of oneworld airline alliance

The European Commission can confirm that in September 2009 it has sent a Statement of Objections to British Airways, American Airlines and Iberia, members of the oneworld airline alliance, in relation to their proposed cooperation on passenger air transport services on transatlantic routes which the Commission considers may be in breach of European rules on restrictive business practices (Article 81 of the EC Treaty and Article 53 of the EEA Agreement). The Commission opened formal proceeding in April 2009 (see MEMO/09/168 ).

The Commission's Statement of Objections concerns agreements concluded between British Airways, American Airlines and Iberia, regarding the coordination of the parties' commercial, operational and marketing activities in relation to passenger traffic on transatlantic routes (principally routes between the EU and North America). Pursuant to these agreements, the parties intend to jointly manage schedules, capacity and pricing, as well as share revenues on transatlantic routes between North America (Canada, Mexico, US and Puerto Rico) and Europe (EU, Norway and Switzerland). The Commission's parallel investigations into the proposed cooperation between four Star Alliance members (Lufthansa, Continental, United and Air Canada) and that between Skyteam members (see IP/07/1558 ) are still ongoing.

Procedural background

A Statement of Objections is a formal step in Commission antitrust investigations in which the Commission informs the parties concerned in writing of the objections raised against them. The addressee of a Statement of Objections can reply in writing to the Statement of Objections, setting out all facts known to it which are relevant to its defence against the objections raised by the Commission. The party may also request an oral hearing to present its comments on the case.

The Commission may then take a decision on whether the conduct addressed in the Statement of Objections is compatible or not with the EC Treaty's antitrust rules. Sending a Statement of Objections does not prejudge the final outcome of the procedure.

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