LONDON The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) gave its tentative approval to grant antitrust immunity to American Airlines and four oneworld partners to form a global alliance.
"If the decision is made final, American and its "oneworld" alliance partners British Airways, Iberia Airlines, Finnair and Royal Jordanian Airlines would be able to more closely coordinate international operations in transatlantic markets," it said in a press release on Saturday.
It said the benefits of the oneworld alliance would be lower fares on more routes, increased services, better schedules and reduced travel and connection times.
However, it said the alliance could harm competition on select routes between the United States and London's Heathrow Airport due to limited landing and takeoff slots. It has requested that the alliance make four pairs of slots available to competitors for new service U.S.-Heathrow service.
BA, Iberia and American Airlines have also offered to modify their plans to share more of their lucrative transatlantic routes in an effort to settle a competition dispute with the European Union.
British Airways said on Sunday that it and its co-applicants "will review the DOT's tentative order and respond according to the timeframe established for comments."
Interested parties have 45 days to object and answers to objections will take a further 15 days.
"American and its oneworld partners are looking forward to competing for business over the Atlantic on a level playing field," said American Airlines.
The DOT previously granted immunity to oneworld's rivals Star Alliance and the SkyTeam alliance.
(Editing by Mike Nesbit)