The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has tentatively allowed Aer Lingus (EI, Dublin Int'l) to join an already immunised transatlantic joint business agreement covering Oneworld member carriers American Airlines, British Airways, Iberia, Finnair, and OpenSkies.

The DOT gave the airlines six months from the finalisation of the order, expected after a two-week window for public comments, to address its concerns regarding certain provisions in the JBA agreement. Since Royal Jordanian (RJ, Amman Queen Alia) is a part of the approved JBA but does not, in practice, participate in it, the DOT requested that it be removed from the agreement. The American authority also ordered the airlines to remove a clause from their JBA requiring members to obtain consent before codesharing with third-party airlines.

"Given the issues raised in the pleadings concerning transatlantic competition and access at London Heathrow, the Department will not approve, or grant ATI to, alliance agreements that contain provisions that allow a party or parties to the agreements to foreclose actual or potential competition," the DOT said.

The DOT also ordered the airlines to remove any exclusivity provisions from bilateral agreements between members of the JBA in respect to any form of third-party cooperation, such as interline, code-share, or frequent-flyer programme benefits.

The airlines were also ordered to withdraw (or remain withdrawn) from immunised tariff coordination under the scope of IATA concerning flights between the US and other markets included in the immunised JBA.

The DOT also imposed a standard annual reporting duty on the airlines.

While Aer Lingus is a subsidiary of IAG International Airlines Group, it is not a member of Oneworld, unlike British Airways and Iberia.

JetBlue Airways (B6, New York JFK), which already has a one-way codeshare agreement with Aer Lingus covering multiple domestic routes out of Boston and New York JFK, said in its responses that it hoped to grow its cooperation with Aer Lingus following the planned launch of transatlantic services. As such, it filed no objection to the inclusion of Aer Lingus in the immunised JBA but appealed to the DOT to amend the reallocation of the remedy slots at London Heathrow to allow new entrants into the market.