European Commission announced (30-Mar-2012) it approved International Airlines Group's (IAG) proposed acquisition of Lufthansa's bmi. The approval was granted on the condition of IAG releasing 14 daily slot pairs at London Heathrow and "upon IAG's commitment to carry connecting passengers to feed the long-haul flights of competing airlines out of London Heathrow". With these conditions met, the Commission decided the acquisition would not raise competition concerns. Conditions on the approval included:
- 12 daily slot pairs at London Heathrow to be released;
- Two daily slot pairs at London Heathrow to be leased to Transaero for services to Moscow Domodedovo;
- IAG to enter into agreements with competing long-haul carriers from London Heathrow to provide them with connecting passengers from IAG's domestic UK and European services. [more - original PR]
IAG CEO Willie Walsh stated the company would begin to consult bmi unions over the potential level of job losses, now the acquisition has been approved, according to reports in The Telegraph. IAG's British Airways (BA) plans to use some of the extra slots available as part of the takeover to expand its network into emerging markets such as Asia. Meanwhile, Northern Ireland Secretary of State Owen Paterson welcomed the Commission's approval of the acquisition following IAG's confirmation of Belfast-London Heathrow service, as reported by ITV. Mr Paterson believes the deal will benefit the Irish economy due its connection with BA's global network. Aer Lingus also stated it is interested in purchasing some of the London Heathrow slots which will be released by IAG, in order to increase its transfer traffic from London Heathrow to its long-haul services from Dublin, as reported by Irish Times.