- The Washington Times - Monday, April 20, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Airline stocks fell broadly on Monday morning along with the rest of the market, and some of the biggest carriers were named in a European Union antitrust probe into trans-Atlantic flying.

The Amex Airline Index fell 6.5 percent, with all 13 of its components down. The Dow was down more than 200 points.

The European Union opened antitrust investigations into seven airlines that fly trans-Atlantic routes as part of the Star and oneworld airline alliances, saying there may be breaches of antitrust rules. The U.S. carriers targeted are Star Alliance members United and Continental airlines and oneworld member American Airlines.

The Commission said its inquiry was focused on the agreement between the airlines in the same alliance to jointly manage schedules, capacity, pricing and revenue on the lucrative routes between Europe and North America. It said it was also worried that airlines could “share revenues and sell tickets on these routes without preference between these carriers.”

Shares of American Airlines parent AMR Corp. fell 37 cents, or 7 percent, to $4.88, United parent UAL Corp. lost 61 cents, or 9.5 percent, at $5.84, and Continental Airlines Inc. dropped 91 cents, or 6.7 percent, to $12.65.

Delta Air Lines Inc., which has a separate alliance with Air France that was not named in the EU probe, fell 55 cents, or 7.5 percent, to $6.77, while US Airways Group Inc. gave up 34 cents, or 8.6 percent, at $3.63.

Among discounters, Southwest Airlines Co. fell 30 cents, or 4.2 percent, to $6.90, and JetBlue Airways Corp. lost 47 cents, or 8.7 percent, at $4.94.

The fall in airline shares came despite another fall in oil prices, which is usually good for airlines. Crude for May delivery fell $4 to $46.33 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil prices have hovered around $50 a barrel this month.

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