After pressing the issue with Department of Transportation officials over the past several months, Senators Norm Coleman (R-MN), Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Bob Corker (R-TN) today praised the decision by Transportation Secretary Mary Peters to approve Antitrust Immunity (ATI) for Northwest-KLM Airlines and Delta-Air France. The anti-trust immunity decision will allow Northwest-KLM to maintain regular transatlantic flights from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to a number of European destinations.
“This agreement will have significant positive impact on the people of Minnesota, and for the future of Northwest Airlines,” Coleman said. “Lacking Anti-trust Immunity, Northwest Airlines may well have ended up without the ability to provide transatlantic flights coming in or out of the state. I was pleased to receive the call from Secretary Peters today, and I am appreciative that our hard work and efforts have resulted in an outcome that will help ensure Minnesota remains a hub for international travel. In the end, this will have a positive impact on Minnesota’s businesses, travelers and residents.”
“This approval is great news for all these airlines but particularly Northwest because this will allow for the expansion of its transatlantic service and give more options to Northwest’s customers,” Alexander said. “The increased travel will promote economic growth in Memphis and the rest of the state, and Tennesseans will have much better access to the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, allowing for easier connections to Europe.”
“Today’s announcement from the U.S. Department of Transportation is a big win for Tennesseans traveling to many European final destinations from Memphis,” Corker said. “I was pleased to work with Senator Alexander, Senator Coleman and the Transportation Department in getting this important process resolved. Allowing Northwest Airlines to partner with some of its European counterparts will help decrease prices, increase flight options, and enhance service to Paris, London and many other destinations.”
After KLM was acquired by Air France in 2004, Northwest-KLM and Delta-Air France realized they would have to file a joint ATI application to keep business available to Northwest and Minnesota. They applied for ATI in 2005 but were denied. They reapplied last summer with a new application meeting every condition previously identified by the Department of Transportation. Their new application was filed on June 28, 2007 and the record was deemed complete by DOT on October 18, 2007. The decision to grant ATI is unrelated possible merger discussions between the airlines.