WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today announced that the Department of Transportation (DOT) issued tentative approval of Continental Airlines’ application to join Star Alliance. Brown recently called and wrote to federal officials in support of Continental’s application, which is expected to protect jobs at the Cleveland hub and improve services for business and recreational travelers.
“We need to protect the Cleveland Hub by ensuring that Continental Airlines remains competitive,” said Brown. “By entering into an agreement with Star Alliance, it is expected that Continental will be able to reduce costs while offering service to more destinations.”
Months after declining United Airlines’ offer to merge last year, Continental entered into an alliance with United, Lufthansa, and others. This partnership, known as Star Alliance, is one of several existing partnerships that allow participating airlines to coordinate connecting flight services and create efficiencies. Continental entered into the Star Alliance after it exited the SkyTeam alliance upon announcement of the Delta and Northwest Airlines merger.
Entering into an alliance requires the approval of the Department of Transportation (DOT), with the Department of Justice (DOJ) offering advice on possible antitrust concerns. The airlines submitted their application in July 2008.
Today, DOT issued a “show-cause” order after consulting with DOJ. This tentative order paves the way for final approval by giving the airlines immunity from antitrust laws. Brown, along with Senator George V. Voinovich (R-OH), wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder and DOT Secretary Ray LaHood in support of Continental’s application.