Just over a year after announcing controversial plans for an alliance, British Airways and American Airlines have grown somewhat tired of waiting for regulatory approval of the step. So fed up has BA's chief executive Robert Ayling become, that he recently threatened to drop the whole idea if approval is not given by November, when take-off and landing slots are allocated for summer 1998. His is a classic and fairly obvious negotiating gambit, and, to be fair, there has been much for US, UK and European regulators to scrutinise. Nor have US or UK elections helped to speed things along. Ayling has a point, however: when regulators drag their feet to such an extent, the rationale behind the move in question inevitably changes. In addition to contemplating the benefits of streamlined airline alliances, the regulators should take a look at streamlining rather closer to home.
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