Page last updated at 14:45 GMT, Monday, 20 April 2009 15:45 UK

Brussels to probe seven airlines

British Airways planes
British Airways is one of the airlines being investigated

The European Commission has started anti-competition investigations into seven transatlantic airlines, including British Airways (BA).

Brussels has opened two separate investigations, the first into proposed additional cooperation between BA, American Airlines and Iberia.

The second probe is into existing and planned cooperation between Air Canada, Continental, Lufthansa and United.

BA said the Commission had stressed it did not have proof of any infringement.

However, Commission spokesman Jonathan Todd said the investigations would not have been launched "unless we thought there was good reason to pursue this".

The investigations are into transatlantic routes between Europe and North America run by One World alliance members BA, American and Iberia, and Star Alliance carriers Air Canada, Lufthansa and United. Continental is not yet a member of the Star Alliance but in talks to join the group.

'More extensive'

"The level of co-operation in question appears far more extensive than the general co-operation between these airlines and other airlines which are part of the Star and One World alliances," the Commission said in a statement.

It is part of the EU process examining our intention to create a transatlantic joint business with American Airlines and Iberia
British Airways

"In particular, the parties to each agreement intend to jointly manage schedules, capacity, pricing and revenue management on transatlantic routes, as well as share revenues and sell tickets on these routes without preference between these carriers," it added.

The Commission said there was no deadline for the completion of its investigation.

BA said the Commission's announcement was "a formal procedural step", and "not unexpected".

"It is part of the EU process examining our intention to create a transatlantic joint business with American Airlines and Iberia," it said.

"We started talking to the commission about our joint business last summer."

BA added that it continued to have discussions with the Commission.

The Commission's investigation comes a year after the "Open Skies" agreement between the European Union and the US. The agreement aimed to enable more airlines to start transatlantic routes.

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