A provisional green light has been given to the takeover of part of Airline Services’ business by Menzies Aviation.

The two firms supply airlines in the UK with a variety of support services including the de-icing of aircraft and ground handling.

The Competition and Markets Authority today provisionally cleared the deal after an in-depth investigation allayed competition concerns.

An initial probe had raised concerns that the merger could restrict choice for airlines at a number of key airports in England and Scotland for both de-icing and ground handling, potentially leading to higher prices or a worse service.

This led to the merger being referred to a group of independent CMA panel members for an in-depth second stage investigation.

The competition watchdog found that the market for ground handling services is “particularly dynamic, with a strong recent history of companies entering the market to compete for contracts”.

The ruling added: “With regard to de-icing services, the CMA has found that competition between Menzies and Airline Services is very limited such that the merger would not lead to a substantial lessening of competition.”

The CMA is inviting comments on its findings until January 9. It will then consider any submissions before reaching a final decision by a deadline of January 28.

The acquiring firm said: “Menzies will continue to work with the CMA through the remaining steps of the process and look forward to taking full stewardship of the business in the near future.”