Virgin Atlantic boss Sir Richard Branson has disputed claims of passenger benefits from the transatlantic alliance between British Airways, American Airlines and Iberia.

Responding to US authorities granting anti-trust immunity to the transatlantic pact, the Virgin Atlantic president said:

“I have no doubt that BA and AA will use their exemption from competition laws and their overwhelming dominance to stifle competition, raise prices and reduce choice.”

Warning that a “monster monopoly” was being created, Sir Richard said:  “It is clear that in taking this decision, the US DoT (Department of Transport) has decided to put the interests of BA and AA before those of the flying public.

“As a result, millions of passengers on both sides of the Atlantic will suffer the consequences of this monster monopoly. This is a bad day for consumers.”

A long-term opponent to the deal, Sir Richard added: “The lesson that big corporations wishing to create anti-competitive monopolies can draw from this debacle is to keep applying year after year until they finally find regulators and politicians willing to wave the application through – no matter what the cost is to consumers.”

Branson pledged to work harder to provide an alternative to transatlantic travellers “despite often operating with one arm tied behind our back”.

“We will now work even harder to provide choice to the millions of business and leisure customers that have just had their travel options radically reduced,” he said.