The UK competition watchdog is to launch a probe into a planned consolidation of airport support services companies.

The Competition and Markets Authority plans an in-depth investigation into Menzies Aviation take over of rival Airline Services.

Both companies supply UK airlines and airports with support services, including the de-icing of aircraft engines and wings; ground handling and the cleaning and maintenance of aircraft interiors.

Following an initial investigation, the CMA identified competition concerns regarding de-icing services at Edinburgh, Glasgow and Heathrow airports, and ground handling services at  Gatwick and Manchester airports.

“As Menzies and Airline Services are close competitors at these airports, the deal could result in less choice for airlines operating there, potentially leading to higher prices and lower quality services,” the CMA said.

“Menzies has chosen not to offer proposals to address the CMA’s concerns and so the merger will now be referred for an in-depth investigation by an independent group of CMA panel members.”

The deadline for the final decision is January 28, 2019.