BA and Iberia merger agreed in EU
July 15th, 2010 by elisa

The European Union has approved the merger between British Airways and Iberia. The merger will create Europe’s third-largest carrier..

The  final regulatory approval of the two airlines along with American Airlines has also been granted by the European Commission on a joint business agreement on transatlantic flights.

No conditions have been applied to the merger, which is expected to take place at the end of the year. With the agreement, the three airlines expect a final decision on anti-trust immunity from the US Department of Transportation soon.

British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh said: “We await the DOT’s final decision but welcome this important and vital step forward. The high number of new services on London to US routes since the Open Skies agreement demonstrates that Heathrow is open.

“Between us, we have agreed to make available Heathrow slot pairs for our competitors to use on services to the US.

“This is a pragmatic decision so that we can get the joint business up and running as soon as possible.

“The slot commitments provide a further guarantee that there will be no possible loss of competition as a result of our joint business”.

The airlines plan to launch the transatlantic joint business this autumn.

Cheapflights Media, the international flight deals publisher, welcomed the deal. CEO Chris Cuddy said: “Cheapflights applauds the EU’s decision to open transatlantic routes to the One World alliance and to allow the BA/Iberia merger. This move helps keep the EU airline industry competitive for travelers which is good for everyone.”

BA’s rival, Virgin Atlantic, reacted differently to the news of the merger. Boss Sir Richard Branson said: “We have fought this monster monopoly for the past 13 years and are still resolute in our belief that this decision is shameful and consumers will suffer greatly as a result.

“The European Commission has let consumers down by agreeing to paltry remedies which are wholly inadequate.”

What are your thoughts on the merger? Is it better for travellers or is it the start of a monopoly?

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