Congress Pushes Off Airline Antitrust Debate ... Again

A U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee again postponed a hearing on airline alliance competition originally rescheduled for this coming Wednesday, with no new date set. Time is running short for Congress to weigh in on this topic before the U.S. Department of Transportation issues a decision on the American Airlines-British Airways-Iberia immunity request, expected next month.
Representatives sitting on the Committee on the Judiciary's subcommittee on courts and competition policy want to air out the controversies surrounding alliance immunity requests, as evidenced by the name of the hearing: Competition Concerns with International Airline Alliances: Should DOJ Co-Pilot the Airline Antitrust Immunity Process? The U.S. Department of Justice in a June 26 filing to DOT raised eyebrows around the international airline sector by disagreeing specifically with DOT's decision to grant ATI to Continental Airlines and the Star Alliance, and generally with DOT's policies on immunity requests.

The hearing initially was scheduled for July 22, but was pushed off. A subcommittee spokesman at that time told me that the chairman, John Conyers, D-Mich., had more pressing matters, namely Congressional hearings on the big automakers from Detroit (Conyers hometown). The more recent postponement is due to "a must-pass piece of legislation to debate on Wednesday," according to a Dow Jones report.