UK Competition regulator to study British Airways trans-Atlantic alliance

  • The CMA is to study British Airways trans-Atlantic alliance with American Airlines, Iberia, and Finnair.
  • The U.K. competition body says it is necessary as commitments made by the airlines will expire in 2020.
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Nicolas Economou | NurPhoto | Getty Images
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Britain's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it would investigate British Airways' revenue-sharing partnership on trans-Atlantic routes ahead of the 2020 expiry of a previous competition deal agreed with the airlines.

British Airways, alongside American Airlines , Iberia and Finnair form the Atlantic Joint Business Agreement, a revenue-sharing joint venture which covers routes between Europe and North America and allows the partners to co-operate on pricing, capacity and schedules.

The UK regulator, the CMA, said in a statement on Thursday it would open an investigation into the partnership, adding that the case was at an early stage and no assumption should be made that it infringes competition law.

The CMA said it decided to study the partnership as commitments made by the airlines under a European Union competition probe from 2010 will expire in 2020.

By that time, the UK will no longer be part of the EU. The commitments made in 2010 mainly related to UK-U.S. routes. The CMA said the new investigation would apply UK and EU law.

British Airways and Iberia are both owned by IAG Group, which said in a statement it would respond to the review.