MIAMI — The European Commission has cleared yesterday evening, under the EU Merger Regulation, the proposed acquisition of Aer Lingus by International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG), clearing its major obstacle towards the acquisition of the Irish flag carrier.
The commission conditioned the approval upon IAG commitments, which address the initial concerns of the commission about the potential lack of competition on several routes, including Dublin and Belfast to London routes and Dublin – Chicago. The commission also feared that IAG might try to prevent Aer Lingus from connecting its flights with those of IAG long-haul rivals as well.
“By obtaining significant concessions from the airlines the Commission has ensured that air passengers will continue to have a choice of airlines at competitive prices after IAG’s takeover of Aer Lingus. The five million passengers travelling each year from Dublin and Belfast to London will be able to choose among several strong carriers. And we are also protecting passengers traveling on connecting flights between Ireland and the rest of the world” said Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner in charge of competition policy.
Under the terms of the approval, the merged IAG-Aer Lingus will have to offer for sale five London Gatwick slots. The commission has stipulated that whoever buys the slots, it will have to commit to use them for flights to Dublin and Belfast.
Aer Lingus shareholders are to vote today to approve measures devised to facilitate a commitment to maintain the connectivity between Dublin and London Heathrow.