Delta, alliance apply for antitrust immunity
By Lynne Marek
Bloomberg News Service
WASHINGTON Delta Air Lines Inc., the third-biggest U.S. carrier, and its international alliance partner carriers are seeking U.S. antitrust immunity to let the airlines better coordinate fares and service with Korean Air Co.
SkyTeam partners Air France SA, Czech Airlines and Alitalia SpA joined Delta and Korean Air in applying to the U.S. Department of Transportation for immediate approval of a five-year accord, Delta said in a statement. All the carriers except Korean Air won immunity for their links in January.
Antitrust immunity would let the carriers coordinate prices and schedules, helping to lower costs and increase sales. Delta and Air France agreed last month to resume selling seats on Korean Air flights, a joint service suspended almost three years ago after accidents at the Korean carrier.
Korean Air "fills an important gap by enabling Delta and its partners to offer alliance customers comprehensive access to destinations across Asia a region where none of the existing alliance partners has a significant presence," the carriers said in their application.
The carriers said antitrust immunity will let them work more closely on cargo services, frequent-flier programs, purchasing, technology development and advertising.
The SkyTeam group competes against other international alliances such as the Star Alliance, which is anchored by UAL Corp.'s United Airlines and Deutsche Lufthansa AG.
The applicants noted that the other major international alliances already have significant access to Asia.