Commission welcomes continued airline competition on the routes from Amsterdam to the US

The European Commission welcomes the positive developments at Amsterdam airport enabling new entrant JetBlue Airways Corporation (‘JetBlue’) to continue operating at the airport over the IATA Summer 2024 Season.

The Commission has actively and closely monitored the evolution of the market conditions at Amsterdam airport. Specifically, this concerned the degree of congestion of the airport and the operations of the Blue Skies joint venture (‘JV’) between Air France-KLM Group, Delta and Virgin Atlantic, to identify any risk of serious and irreparable damage to competition for transatlantic traffic, in particular on the Amsterdam-New York route. The Commission stood ready to intervene with interim measures in case JetBlue did not secure appropriate access to Amsterdam airport for the IATA Summer 2024 Season.

Between 2010 and 2015, the Commission investigated three JVs related to transatlantic passenger services: (i) Oneworld Atlantic Joint Business (American Airlines, British Airways, Finnair and Iberia), (ii) Star A++ (Air Canada, United Airlines and Lufthansa), and (iii) the TAJV between Skyteam members Air France-KLM Group, Alitalia and Delta. In 2020, the Blue Skies JV between Air France-KLM Group, Delta and Virgin Atlantic replaced the TAJV and the former JV between Delta and Virgin Atlantic.

The JVs bring together EU and US airlines, which agree to combine their resources and share revenues on transatlantic routes linking their hub airports, as well as routes that connect those hubs to certain ‘behind and beyond’ destinations in Europe and the US.

As a result of its investigations, the Commission found that, on certain hub-to-hub transatlantic routes such as Amsterdam-New York, the entry of a new competitor or the expansion of an existing competitor was necessary to remedy the distortive effects of the joint ventures.

In late IATA Summer 2023 Season, US carrier JetBlue started offering daily direct passenger transport services on the Amsterdam-New York and Amsterdam-Boston routes. JetBlue’s entry revived competition to the benefit of consumers between the three airlines offering direct transatlantic services at Amsterdam airport, namely: two Blue Skies members (KLM and Delta) and United Airlines.

However, due to the tight capacity constraints at Amsterdam airport, JetBlue had not been able to obtain all of the slots it had requested during the initial phases of the slot allocation procedure for the IATA Summer 2024 Season. There was therefore a risk that JetBlue would have had to discontinue its operations on those routes as of 30 March 2024.

JetBlue has improved its slot portfolio at Amsterdam airport during the later phases of the slot allocation procedure and has eventually obtained all the slots it needs to continue operating at Amsterdam airport throughout the IATA Summer 2024 Season. As a result, consumers will not be deprived of choice at a time of strong demand for transatlantic services.

The Commission will continue its monitoring ahead of the IATA Summer 2025 Season.