Continental's break-up with the SkyTeam Alliance and partner Delta may not be a smooth one. The Washington Post writes that Delta on Tuesday "formally objected to a request by Continental Airlines for antitrust approval that would allow Continental to deepen ties with major airline partners in the United States and overseas. Continental is seeking immunity from antitrust rules so it can partner with United and Lufthansa on transatlantic flights, and eventually on trips to Latin America and Asia. Without clearance from the Department of Transportation, Continental would be breaking U.S. laws that forbid airlines from sharing information on schedules, costs or the prices they plan to charge."
Delta's objection: That Continental's proposed ties with United would give the duo an unfair presence on routes to Brazil and China. For its part, Delta has been granted wide-ranging immunity to work with its own international partner, Air France-KLM. "Continental attributed Delta's filing to industry rivalry," the Post writes. "From what we have seen, there's nothing new here," Continental spokeswoman Mary Clark says in a prepared statement quoted by the Post. "It looks like another attempt by the world's largest airline to prevent others from competing with it. We are confident the government will see through Delta's attempt to suppress competition."
The Delta-Continental alliance flap comes as airlines increasingly look to alliances and partnerships as a way to benefit from pooling resources with other carriers. The Post notes "alliance-related antitrust fights are becoming increasingly common in the highly competitive airline world. Airlines see alliances as one of the few tools the industry has to bring about consolidation across borders." Of course, another U.S. carrier –- American –- is caught up in antitrust talks in an effort to bolster its oneworld alliance ties with European partners British Airways and Iberia.