Branson all set to slam BA in the US

SIR Richard Branson is set to air his grievances on the proposed tie-up between British Airways (BA) and American Airlines (AA) in the US next month, appearing in front of a key&nbsp; panel examining competition policy. <br /><br />The founder of Virgin group, who has been very vocal in his condemnation of the tie-up, was summoned as a witness for the House of Representatives Judiciary Subcommittee last week. He is set to&nbsp; give his views on the planned alliance on 16 September.<br /><br />The opposition to BA&rsquo;s intentions to expand comes almost a year to the day after the airline announced plans to create an alliance with AA.<br /><br />The ailing British flag carrier is also in intense talks with the Spanish airline Iberia on plans to combine revenues and co-ordinate long-haul flights. <br /><br />The US Department of Transportation (DoT) is considering whether to grant BA and AA anti-trust immunity, which will let the two airlines complete the agreement.<br /><br />Sir Richard has dubbed the proposed venture a "monster monopoly", and has expressed concerns over the dominance it would have over Heathrow&ndash;US flights. <br /><br />&ldquo;A tie-up would give the airlines an 80 per cent market share between Heathrow and Boston, for example,&rdquo; a Virgin spokesperson said yesterday.<br />BA reported record full-year losses earlier this year, and a pre-tax loss of &pound;148m in its first quarter.<br /><br />A spokesperson for the airline said yesterday that &ldquo;BA is not aware of the details of any forthcoming hearings,&rdquo; and added that the hearing was an investigation into all competition policy, not just&nbsp; the proposed deal between BA and AA.