26 June 2011

Qantas and American Airlines seek approval for Joint Business Agreement

Just two days after interim US DOT approval of the alliance between Delta and Virgin Blue was announced (see previous post), oneworld alliance members Qantas and American Airlines on 12 May 2011 filed with the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) for approval of a Joint Business Agreement (JBA). (The reference for the parallel filing made with the US Department of Transportation is DOT-OST-2011-0111.)

On 16 May 2011 Qantas announced that it had commenced direct flights from Sydney (SYD) to American's major hub Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) returning to SYD via Brisbane (BNE). Qantas uses its B747-400ER aircraft for this ultra-long-range operation. On 14 May 2011 Qantas ceased operating to San Francisco (SFO).

Interim approval was granted by the ACCC on 9 June 2011.

Virgin Blue alliance with Delta approved by US DOT

On 10 May 2011 the US Department of Transportation (DOT) announced that, after substantial changes had been made to the application (docket DOT-OST-2009-0155), it proposed to approve anti-trust immunity for an alliance between Delta Air Lines and Virgin Blue Airlines (see previous post).

This came after a 2 May 2011 announcement that the two airlines were expanding their code-share arrangements.

Note that on 4 May 2011 Virgin Blue announced that it was changing its name to Virgin Australia.

On 10 June 2011 the two airlines announced that they welcomed final US DOT approval of the alliance.

Royal Brunei ceasing operations to Auckland

On 21 June 2011 Royal Brunei Airlines (BI) announced that it is to cease operation to Auckland (AKL), Brisbane (BNE), Perth (PER) and Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) at the end of October 2011.

On 29 March 2011 Royal Brunei commenced operations to Melbourne which in future will be the only airport in Australasia that it serves.

Royal Brunei has been operating to New Zealand since 2003 under the "open skies" MALIAT.

No doubt the commencement of operations to AKL in early 2011 by four new airline operators from East Asia (see previous post) will have influenced Royal Brunei's decision to withdraw.

06 June 2011

The 1935 UK-USA bilateral air navigation arrangement

The arrangements on air services reached between the United Kingdom and the United States of America at Bermuda in 1946 created a model for many of the bilateral air services arrangements (see previous post).

What is less widely know are the details of the earlier 1935 arrangement that took the form of an Exchange of Notes (EoN) on 28 March and 5 April.

In this EoN can be seen many of the features that would appear in post Second World War bilaterals.

What is notably missing from the EoN is the right for UK airlines to operate to Hawaii.

As Dutch aviation historian Marc Dierikx notes in his article "Shaping world aviation. Anglo-American civil aviation relations, 1944-1946" (Journal of Air Law and Commerce 57(1992) nr. 4, p. 795-840), the EoN did not come into practical effect until the airlines of both sides (Pan American and Imperial Airways) were ready to commence regular flying boat operations across the Atlantic. This did not happen until 1939.

Australia signs new air services understandings with Saudi Arabia and Oman

On 21 April 2011 the Australian Minister of Infrastructure and Transport announced that Australia had signed new understandings with Saudi Arabia and Oman. Both provide for restricted access to Australia's main airports. The statement notes that work is continuing on finalising the associate air services agreements.

More new air services arrangements signed by the UAE

The United Arab Emirates has added to its already impressive list of air services agreements (see previous post) by announcing the conclusion of new air services arrangements with (dates are when a statement was posted):

Bangladesh - 14 April 2011
Montenegro - 14 April 2011
Uruguay - 9 May 2011
Colombia - 16 May 2011
Mali - 22 May 2011

The GCCA's statement with respect to Bangladesh rather surprisingly seems to give details of what is supposed to be a Confidential Memorandum of Understanding!

Alleged air cargo rate fixing case reaches court in New Zealand

The NZ Herald reported on court action taken by the Commerce Commission into alleged price fixing by nine international airlines serving the New Zealand market (see previous post) on:

9 May 2011 - "Airlines' price fix case starts in court"
11 May 2011 - "Air cargo cartel case opens in High Court"
12 May 2011 - "Qantas fined $6.5m for price fixing"
12 May 2011 - "Air NZ in court as price-fixing case gets under way"
13 May 2011 - "Qantas hit with record $6.5 million fine"
14 May 2011 - "Cartel case out of line, say airlines"

The Commerce Commission has made a number of media releases on the case:

20 March 2009 - "Commerce Commission procedure in accordance with standard best practice"
11 March 2011 - "Court of Appeal rules on use of confidentiality orders"
18 March 2011 - "Settlements in cartel case as Commerce Commission prepares for Court"
5 April 2011 - "$7.6 million imposed against two airlines in air cargo cartel case" - British Airways and Cargolux
20 April 2011 - "Commerce Commission narrows focus of air cargo cartel case before trial"
27 April 2011 - "Airlines' information request case resolved" - Singapore Airlines Cargo and Cathay Pacific
12 May 2011 - "Court awards highest penalty to date in price fixing" - this statement notes similar action taken in Australia, the United States, the European Union, Canada and South Korea

Air New Zealand has also issued related media statements:

18 March 2011 - in response to a Qantas media statement issued on the same day
20 April 2011

On 17 May 2010 the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced that it was taking action against Air New Zealand. On 18 May 2010 Air Transport World reported Air New Zealand's reaction.

On 11 November 2010 the NZ Herald reported that Air New Zealand had been dropped from similar action taken by the European Commission (see previous post).