The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has granted authorisation to coordinate airline services for five years to Virgin Australia Airlines, the HNA Aviation Group, Hong Kong Airlines and Hong Kong Express Airways. The Alliance Framework Agreement may see additional airline services operate between Australia and mainland China, and Australia and Hong Kong.
“The ACCC considers the alliance will likely realise significant public benefits, primarily through supporting the introduction of new services between Australia and mainland China and Hong Kong including by Virgin,” ACCC Commissioner Roger Featherston said.
Since the ACCC granted interim authorisation in March, Virgin has commenced services between Australia and Hong Kong. Virgin also expects to launch services between Australia and mainland China.
The airlines will coordinate their international passenger transport services such as codesharing, frequent flyer program participation, lounge access, route planning, and scheduling.
“The ACCC considers that the alliance is unlikely to result in any significant public detriment as there was unlikely to have been any material overlap between direct flights operated by Virgin and any of the other airlines in the short to medium term without the alliance in place,” Mr Featherston said.
Further information, including a copy of the decision, is available from the ACCC’s public register: Virgin Australia Airlines Pty Ltd & Ors - Authorisations - A91575 & A91576
Authorisation provides statutory protection from court action for conduct that might otherwise raise concerns under the competition provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. Broadly, the ACCC may grant an authorisation when it is satisfied that the public benefit resulting from the conduct outweighs any public detriment.
Interim authorisation allows the parties to engage in the conduct prior to the ACCC considering the substantive merits of the application.
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