Competition: EU Commission and US Department of Transportation publish joint report on transatlantic alliances
The European Commission (via its Directorate-General responsible for Competition) and the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) have published the main findings of a joint research project aimed at deepening their understanding of transatlantic air services. This project provides a foundation for substantive cooperation between the Commission and the DOT in the competitive assessment of airline alliances. The report clarifies the extent of convergence between the two agencies in their respective competition reviews of transatlantic alliances.
The EU-US Air Transport Agreement enhanced competition by allowing, for the first time, EU or US airlines to serve any routes between Europe and the United States. The agreement has been applied as of the end of March 2008, pending ratification. It also called 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 was a first step in this process.
The project was launched in March 2008 (see IP/08/459). The European Commission and DOT staff conducted joint interviews with airlines and airline alliances, and commissioned quantitative analysis of traffic data.
The report summarises the main findings of the project. It describes the evolution of the aviation industry in the two jurisdictions, explains the emergence of alliances and discusses the most recent trends. The report also compares the respective legal regimes in the EU and US and the analytical frameworks for competition review applied by the Commission and the DOT.
The project marks a significant step forward in the degree of cooperation between the Commission and the DOT and is a signal of both agencies' commitment to work towards compatible approaches on competition issues.