The European Competition Commissioner has approved the purchase of BMI by International Airlines Group (IAG).
The parent of British Airways, IAG will pay £172.5 million for BMI, the second-biggest carrier at Heathrow, in a deal agreed in December.
In a statement today, IAG said some technical conditions need to be finalised before completion of the deal, which is anticipated to take place around April 20.
IAG said: “Following completion, it is intended BMI mainline will be integrated into British Airways.”
The airline group, which also owns Iberia, gave the following commitments to the EC: to use seven daily slot pairs between Heathrow and Edinburgh and/or Aberdeen; to use five daily slot pairs between Heathrow and Nice, Cairo, Riyadh, Moscow, Edinburgh and/or Aberdeen; to lease two Heathrow daily slot pairs to Transaero; and to offer seats to other airlines for transfer passengers on the BA/bmi short and mid-haul network.
IAG chief executive Willie Walsh said: “We’re delighted the EC has given competition approval for our acquisition of BMI. Their decision follows a thorough review during which the views of key stakeholders have been taken into account.
“This is great news. Over time we will launch new long-haul routes to key trading nations that are currently not served from Heathrow while supporting our short-haul network. This is good for UK business and UK consumers. We have already announced that British Airways will re-start flights from Belfast to Heathrow, maintaining important economic links.
“Expanding our longhaul network also helps Heathrow grow as an international hub airport despite its infrastructure constraints.
“More British jobs will be saved than if BMI had closed. British Airways will consult with BMI staff and their unions as soon as possible.”
Walsh added: “We plan to operate BMI’s summer schedule and will update their customers once the transaction has been completed.”
The deal will increase IAG’s Heathrow slot portfolio by at least 42 daily slot pairs, giving BA more than 50% of slots at the airport.
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