In finalizing the tentative decision it made Feb. 13, the department set several conditions on American and its oneworld alliance partners -- British Airways, Iberia Airlines, Finnair and Royal Jordanian Airlines -- aimed at protecting consumers and preserving competition.
Transportation officials said the alliance will enhance competition worldwide by enabling the oneworld alliance to compete more vigorously with Star Alliance and SkyTeam, which have similar antitrust immunity.
To head off anti-competitive problems on select routes between the United States and London's Heathrow Airport, the department required the applicants to make four pairs of slots at Heathrow available to competitors for new U.S.-London service, with two pairs to be used for Boston-London service and the other two for service from any other U.S. cities.
The department will review the situation in five years.
American said the European Union approved the joint business proposal July 14.
"By working collaboratively with our oneworld partners, we will enhance our product offerings, strengthen our route networks, and better position our airlines to compete in the ever-changing global aviation marketplace," said Gerard Arpey, chairman and chief executive officer of AMR Corp. in Fort Worth, Texas, the parent of American Airlines.
British Airways Chief Executive Willie Walsh said the DOT decision will "level the playing field with the other two global alliances."
"As we have argued all along, the EU-U.S. market is highly competitive and Heathrow's liberalization in 2008 opened it up even further," he said.
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