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Delta, 3 foreign airlines will coordinate operations

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WASHINGTON — The Transportation Department on Friday said Delta Air Lines and three foreign airlines could coordinate flights, set fares and sell each other's tickets.

The decision gives Delta, Air France, the Italian carrier Alitalia and Czech Airlines immunity from U.S. antitrust laws. The airlines will remain independent.

The agreement would allow a passenger to board a Europe-bound Delta flight in the United States and then seamlessly switch to one of the European carriers to complete the journey.

The only limit on the decision involves flights between Paris and both Atlanta and Cincinnati, because of Delta's dominant role at airports in those two U.S. cities. In those cases, the airlines cannot work together to set fares for unrestricted coach-class, business or first-class passengers who buy tickets in the United States for nonstop flights.

The United States has open skies agreements with France, Italy and the Czech Republic, allowing other airlines to offer flights between American cities and the three countries without first getting government approval.

The Transportation Department said it would review the agreement within five years.