The European Commission (EC) has approved International Airlines Group’s (IAG) acquisition of Aer Lingus, subject to the carriers surrendering five slot pairs at London Gatwick Airport.
Detailing its conclusions on Tuesday, the Commission said it required “significant concessions” on routes from London to Dublin and Belfast for the tie-up to go ahead.
“The Commission had concerns that the merged entity would have faced insufficient competition on several routes,” the EC said, identifying Dublin-London, Belfast-London and Dublin-Chicago as the main competition pinch points for the deal.
To appease the regulator, IAG offered to give up five daily Gatwick slot pairs to its rivals. Two of these five daily slots must be used to serve Dublin, while a third is reserved for Belfast flights. The remaining two pairs can be used for either Dublin or Belfast.
The Commission also insisted that Aer Lingus must continue to accept rival airlines’ connecting passengers at Amsterdam, Dublin, Gatwick, Heathrow, Manchester and Shannon.
“These commitments adequately address all competition concerns identified by the Commission. The Commission therefore concluded that the proposed transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) or a substantial part of it,” the Commission concluded.
IAG issued a brief statement, confirming the remedies and welcoming the ruling. This marks another major milestone for the takeover, following Ryanair’s recent confirmation that it is willing to sell its Aer Lingus shares to IAG.