The Bush administration cleared the largest-ever U.S. airline marketing alliance on Friday, allowing three carriers to sell seats on each other's flights, but imposed restrictions on certain routes and required them to give up airport gates and facilities in certain cases.
The government placed several conditions on the deal. Specifically, the DOT said 60 percent of any new code-sharing routes must serve those areas of the country that are considered underserved. And it bans anti-competitive practices like coordinated pricing or shared decisions about route planning and capacity.
"While I don't think it's going to be a harm to consumers, I don't think its going to reap the same benefits to consumers as Continental-Northwest," said airline expert Terry Trippler.
Delta said it would not comment on the decision until it was finished reviewing it. Neither Continental nor Northwest had any immediate comment.
Chip comments: Why are the airline's not commenting?