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US grants anti-trust immunity to SWISS and American Airlines

Travel News Asia 26 November 2002

SWISS International Air Lines has moved a further key step forward in its partnership with American Airlines: the US authorities have approved the two carriers application for anti-trust immunity. The approval means that SWISS and American Airlines the worlds biggest air carrier can now substantially enhance the efficiency of their collaboration by coordinating their marketing, schedules and fares without fear of falling foul of legislation against anticompetitive practices.

The US Department of Transportation granted immunity against anti-trust legislation to the partnership between SWISS and American Airlines on Friday. The new status will immediately enable both companies to substantially intensify the close collaboration they embarked on in spring 2002. The partners can now coordinate their fares and schedules, launch joint marketing initiatives and perform many more joint and harmonised activities.

Anti-trust immunity enables SWISS and American Airlines to jointly plan, coordinate and dovetail their services, and thereby make maximum use of the synergies offered by interlinking their networks. Customers will feel the benefits in the form of a fully-integrated global sales and services product.

A positive impact on earnings at SWISS

SWISS regards the bestowal of anti-trust immunity on its partnership with American Airlines as a vital step both in cementing the present collaboration and in strengthening its links with the OneWorld airline alliance. Air services in Europe, in the USA and over the North Atlantic account for some 50 per cent of the worlds air traffic volume. But neither SWISS nor American Airlines currently enjoys anti-trust immunity on their services between the USA and Central Europe. The new status, and the closer collaboration it will allow, should have a highly positive impact on SWISSs earnings results. It will also allow this option of closer collaboration, which is envisaged in the SWISS business plan, to be fully utilised with immediate effect. 

SWISS and American Airlines have been closely linked by a partnership agreement since spring 2002. All the partners North Atlantic services and a steadily-growing number of connections to and from their respective hubs are already operated on a codeshare basis. SWISS provides daily services to eight destinations in the USA and Canada (New York, Newark, Washington, Boston, Miami, Montreal, Chicago and Los Angeles) from Zurich and Geneva. And most of these gateways offer a broad range of connecting American Airlines flights to a total of 22 US domestic destinations. American Airlines also provides a daily service between Dallas/Fort Worth, its own prime hub, and Zurich, where SWISS currently offers onward connections to a further 34 points in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India.

Plans are currently being devised to further increase the number of SWISS/American Airlines codeshare destinations, especially in Canada, Central America, Africa and Eastern Europe. Switzerland recently concluded an open-skies agreement with Canada which will allow the company to add Toronto, Quebec, Calgary and Vancouver to its network in collaboration with American Airlines.

American Airlines is the worlds biggest air carrier. The company operates a fleet of over 1 100 aircraft together with its American Eagle and AmericanConnection subsidiaries. Its more than 4 400 flights a day serve 250 destinations in 41 countries in North, Central and South America, Europe and the Far East. SWISSs 132-aircraft fleet operates 650 services a day to 117 destinations in 59 countries in Europe, the Americas, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

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