The geographical scope of the alliance is that of the transatlantic links between North America and Europe. Aer Lingus flies up to 14 destinations from Ireland to the United States. With a hub in Dublin, the airline also offers routes to 47 destinations in Europe, including 12 unique European destinations for which American currently does not provide any services. Aer Lingus carries only about 3% of passengers between the United States and Europe, so it is not a massive airline in this market that would give oneworld carriers a significant market share. On October 11, 2018, the Competition Authority (CMA) opened a competition investigation into Atlantic`s joint trade agreement. In line with the approach adopted by the European Commission during the first study of the agreement between 2009 and 2010, the investigation will be carried out in accordance with the rules on restrictive agreements which, for the United Kingdom, are in line with the prohibition of Chapter I of the Competition Act 1998 and, if necessary, Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The case remains at an early stage and should not be considered contrary to competition law, the CMA stressed. The DOT also looked at the existing airlines in the agreement. British Airways has been incredibly active with new transatlantic connections with cities like San Jose, Las Vegas, Austin, New Orleans, Nashville, Fort Lauderdale, Charleston and Pittsburgh. All this, plus frequent flyer benefits, also means more options for customers. In recent years, joint ventures have become more frequent. Airlines, from Delta to American Airlines, have deepened existing – and new – partnerships across the pond to better compete on one of the world`s most lucrative routes. Although Aer Lingus is wholly owned by IAG, the parent company of British Airways and Iberia, it has never fully participated in the joint venture agreement.
Following a full evaluation, the DOT concluded that it would not necessarily be detrimental to Aer Lingus to join the joint venture partnership. “IAG has a track record in developing significant synergies,” he said, noting the success of the group`s joint venture with American Airlines in 2010. At 44%, Aer Lingus is the largest operator between the United States and Ireland. With joint trading partners, this will reach nearly 60%, although other airlines will continue to serve the market. Shortly after Aer Lingus accounted for 44% of market share at 12%, United with 12%, American with 11%, Delta at 10%, British Airways with 4% and other airlines 7%. Both operations are subject to authorisation from the authorities in different countries. American and LATAM are considering seeking immunity from antitrust legislation, while IAG has announced that it would take between 12 and 18 months to get the green light.