Richard Branson is Super Pissed Over the Proposed American and British Airways Partnership
Fresh off their victory over Delta in the battle over Japan Airlines, American Airlines is shifting back into offense and turning eastward. The world's second largest airline is applying for permission to more closely cooperate with oneworld partner British Airways, the intention being to cut redundant routes and streamline costs. Everyone agrees that the venture would increase prices by a solid 15%, but nonetheless it looks like the Department of Transportation is ready to sign off on the deal.
There's a good argument to be made that American and BA are just getting priveleges that have already been extended to other airline alliances. Delta and Air France already coordinate closely under the SkyTeam umbrella, while Star Alliance has all kinds of cooperation between Continental, United, US Airways, and Lufthansa. And geez is Virgin's Richard Branson pissed over all this. He's been harping about the possibility of American/BA collusion for a while, but the most recent DOT decision sent him ballistic.
We're going to give you two paragraphs from the press release that Virgin issued almost immediately, subtly titled "BA/AA is a Kick In the Teeth For Consumers." It was impossible to choose just one, so delicious were both:
This preliminary decision beggars belief. The DOT last time said that in order to address the competitive harms hundreds of slot pairs had to be handed over permanentlyabsolutely nothing has changed since then. Four slots pairs is a complete joke and those responsible for this decision should hang their heads in shame.
The US Department of Justice, who are the experts in competition issues, called for strict remedies to protect the public interest, because the alliance will blatantly harm competition and the consumer. The Department of Transport has chosen to stick two fingers up at them. Millions of transatlantic travellers will be adversely affected if the alliance receives final approval.
Sticking up two fingers, also known as "The Vicky" in the West of Scotland, is the UK equivalent of giving someone the middle finger. Branson's accusing American officials of saying "F*ck You" to consumers. Keep in mind that this is ostensibly an official statement stating the position of a corporate entity. He really is magic, isn't he?
[Photo: Arpingstone / Wiki Commons]
· BA/AA is a Kick In the Teeth For Consumers [Virgin]
· American Airlines [Jaunted]
· British Airways [Jaunted]