Delta says BA-AA must lose 50 flights

Delta Air Lines of the US, one of the leading opponents of the British Airways-American Airlines alliance, said yesterday that the tie-up should only be allowed to go ahead if the two carriers surrendered 50 round trips from Heathrow a day.

This is double the number of slots that competition authorities in Washington and Brussels have said should be relinquished and four times the number that the Office of Fair Trading says BA and American should be required to give up.

The tough line being taken by Delta, the biggest airline in the world based on passengers carried, is designed to put extra pressure on regulatory authorities on both sides of the Atlantic as the deadline looms for a final decision on the long-delayed alliance.

The OFT recommended that BA and American relinquish 168 take off and landing slots at Heathrow a week as the condition for allowing the alliance to proceed. The European Competition Commissioner, Karel Van Miert and the US General Office of Accounting, which reports to Congress, both recommended that 350 slots be surrendered.

But Delta said yesterday that between 700 and 800 slots should be given up and redistributed to rival carriers if real competition were to be preserved following the launch of the alliance.

Approval for the BA-American tie up will pave the way for an open skies agreement between London and Washington, liberalising air services across the Atlantic by permitting any US carrier into Heathrow.

Stephan Egli, Delta's newly appointed vice-president for the Atlantic and Pacific, said that releasing 168 slots would only allow proper competition to take place on one route - Heathrow to New York's JFK airport - where the combination of BA and American would otherwise dominate with 13 non- stop flight a day.

Mr Egli said that if there were to be real competition on the four, or give other routes where BA and American would have a stranglehold, then as many as 800 slots would need to be freed up: "We recognise that is a tremendous number of slots but it needs to be done if we are not to allow a monopoly."

The alternative, he added, would be higher price and less choice because other carriers would simply drop out of the routes as they would not be able to compete on equal terms.

A BA spokesman said of Delta's demand: "There are some absurd suggestions out there but this one takes the biscuit. All our competitors have rallied against the alliance because they have their own agendas to pursue."

The BA team working on the alliance planning meets today to take stock of the situation and continue preparing the airline's formal response to Mr Van Miert. Bob Ayling has set an effective deadline of November for approval for the alliance otherwise the two carriers will not be able to plan their summer schedule properly. The bi-annual slot scheduling conference, attended by all the world's airlines, takes place in Brisbane, Australia, between 13-20 November to allocate slots for all airports for next summer.

Even if approval is finally granted it will have taken BA and American two years from the date of their original announcement to get the alliance airborne.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Software Development Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: Product Manager - (Product Marketing, Financial Services)

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Assistant

£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...

Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee