American Airlines loses fight over Delta airport slots

·1 min read
A Delta Air Lines aircraft lands at Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Virginia

By Foo Yun Chee

LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) - American Airlines, which gave up rights to two airport slots to Delta Air Lines' in 2013, on Thursday lost a court appeal to have the European Union cancel them for lack of use.

American gave up the takeoff and landing rights at Heathrow and Philadelphia airports to get antitrust approval for its merger with US Airway. Airlines may keep a slot in perpetuity provided they use it regularly. The European Commission picked Delta to take up the slots.

The EU Court of Justice (CJEU), Europe's highest, dismissed American's arguments that Delta did not fulfil its obligation to use the slots regularly.

"The text of the final commitments does not establish a specific number of frequencies that should be operated by the prospective entrant to ensure effective competition," the judges ruled.

American complained that Delta had not made appropriate use of the slots as required under grandfather rights, prompting the EU competition watchdog to issue a decision in 2018 backing its rival.

American challenged the decision at the General Court in 2020 but lost. It then appealed to the CJEU.

The case is C‑127/21 P, American Airlines v Commission.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Richard Chang)