jetBlue Airways (B6, New York JFK) petitioned the US Department of Transportation (DOT) on January 30, 2019, to combine the two pending transatlantic joint venture antitrust immunity applications into a single proceeding and then open an in-depth competitive analysis.

The American carrier has so far unsuccessfully been trying to force a thorough review of the proposed merger of the Delta Air Lines-Air France-KLM and Delta-Virgin Atlantic transatlantic joint ventures into one partnership. It has now included the other expanding JV including American Airlines, IAG International Airlines Group, and Finnair.

"Both applications present common issues that the Department must adjudicate, including the current competitive landscape in transatlantic markets, issues related to slot access at various key European airports - most importantly, London Heathrow - and the broader policy question of how to treat two existing immunized joint ventures that are seeking to grow through equity investments and corporate restructuring," jetBlue wrote in its motion.

In addition, the Skyteam JV involving KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Delta additionally raises concerns about slot access at Amsterdam Schiphol. Both the Dutch and the British gateway operate at capacity and can barely accommodate any additional flights.

Given the similarity of the two transatlantic partnerships and their market impact, the public interest warrants their consolidation into a single proceeding, jetBlue wrote.

"Because both pending applications involve existing immunized joint ventures and, if approved, would result in further consolidation in the already excessively concentrated U.S.-UK market specifically, and the U.S.-Europe market more broadly, evidence regarding competitive changes in these markets since ATI was originally granted, including the current status of slots and access for new entrants at constrained airports, is critically relevant to both proceedings," the airline said.

jetBlue additionally asked the DOT to once again review the documents provided by Delta, Air France-KLM, and Virgin regarding slot access. The DOT previously rejected jetBlue's request for more information and was satisfied with the slot holding disclosure that the applicant carriers provided.

jetBlue has expressed a general interest in serving transatlantic markets with its incoming A321-200neo, potentially after conversion to the LR variant.