The SJB now has a fourth member, Iberia having officially joined British Airways, Japan Airlines and Finnair in a joint activity between Europe and Japan. 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. British Airways currently has four joint commercial agreements that allow the airline to give its customers more choice. JAL President Yoshiharu Ueki added: “Today we welcome our oneworld partner, Iberia, to our home centre in Tokyo. Japan Airlines is working to strengthen its presence in Europe, and we believe that the launch of the four joint activities between Europe and Japan will provide our customers with more seamless access, consistent services and more travel opportunities. The CMA will not be able to conclude its investigation until a number of agreements currently in place expire in line with the commitments made by the Commission in 2010. This means that there would have been an “enforcement deficit” (i.e., a situation in which there are no corrective measures to address competition issues associated with the AJBA) if no action was taken without delay. This enforcement gap would have a significant negative impact on the public interest (i.e., the interests of competition protection and, therefore, on the interests of consumers). As a result, the CMA decided to adopt interim measures.
When the commitments made by the parties expire in 2020, the European Commission will be able to re-re-elect the agreement, but this is not necessary. Given that 5 of the six lines of engagement are from the United Kingdom and are preparing at a time when the European Commission may no longer be competent for competition in the United Kingdom, the CMA has decided to re-examine the impact of the agreement on competition in anticipation of the expiry of the commitments. “Given the continued increase in the number of trips abroad from the UK to Japan, we are very pleased to announce our partnership with BTA. This will give us an excellent opportunity to work closely with key players in the UK business travel market and present Japan Airlines with a perfect blend of tradition, innovation and hospitality. Against the parties under investigation: American Airlines Group Inc; International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (including Aer Lingus Limited, British Airways plc and Iberia Léneas Aéreas de Espaa SA); And Finnair OYJ. Aer Lingus is a signatory to the agreement, but does not yet operate services under the Atlantic Joint Business Agreement, as it is subject to the United Stated Department of Transportation, which renews antitrust immunity (under review).