Letter: Branson and the air oligopoly

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The Independent Online
Branson and the air oligopoly

Sir: I read with some astonishment Richard Branson's article (12 June) criticising the proposed code-sharing alliance between BA and American Airlines. He forgot to mention that his own airline, Virgin, has a code-sharing alliance with Delta, an airline not dissimilar in size to American. When announcing the alliance in 1994, he claimed it was a great breakthrough for consumers.

It is difficult to see why the American-BA alliance is "unholy" while the Delta-Virgin alliance is the best thing for consumers since ballooning. Surely both are manifestations of an inevitable trend towards concentration and oligopoly within the international airline industry once you introduce free competition.

It is surprising to find that a vigorous proponent of a free market in air transport should now be asking the regulators to control competition between the emerging airline oligopolies. Or is he just crying foul because someone has put together a bigger alliance than his own?

Professor RIGAS DOGANIS,

College of Aeronautics

Cranfield University

Bedfordshire

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