European Commission clears Aer Lingus takeover

AP News
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Posted: Jul 14, 2015 4:48 PM

LONDON (AP) — The European Commission on Tuesday cleared the takeover of Irish airline Aer Lingus by International Airlines Group after securing measures to address competition concerns.

The commission said the deal was cleared after IAG agreed to give up some of its slots at London's Gatwick airport to allow rival airlines to operate the busy routes between London and Ireland.

"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," said Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner in charge of competition policy.

IAG, which also owns British Airways and Spain's Iberia, agreed to release five daily slot pairs at Gatwick.

The carrier would also make agreements with rival airlines operating long haul flights out of airports including London, Manchester and Amsterdam so that Aer Lingus can continue to provide those airlines with connecting passengers.

IAG unveiled its 1.3 billion-euro ($1.45 billion) takeover bid for Aer Lingus in January.

The European Commission's approval came after Irish budget carrier Ryanair agreed on Friday to sell its nearly 30 percent stake in Aer Lingus to IAG.

That cleared a major hurdle in the deal — IAG had made its takeover bid conditional on acceptance by Ryanair. It also formally ended Ryanair's own nine-year effort to seize its Dublin-based competitor.