Bill seeks to raise bar on antitrust immunity for airline partnerships

02/5/2009 | Chicago Tribune (tiered subscription model)

Rep. James Oberstar, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, introduced legislation on Tuesday designed to make it more difficult for airline alliances to receive antitrust immunity. The Minnesota Democrat said such deals amount to "a de facto merger of these airlines," and his bill requires the Government Accountability Office to study how consumers are affected by a change in competition. Oberstar also seeks to require that all antitrust waivers expire after three years, unless specifically extended by the Transportation Department. American Airlines and Continental Airlines, which both have immunity requests pending, said in response to the Oberstar bill that granting their waivers would improve competition on international routes.

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