British Airways’ dominance at Heathrow Airport is set to increase if it succeeds in buying the airline bmi in a deal worth £300m
If BA’s parent company, International Airlines Group (IAG), seals the deal with the Lufthansa-owned airline, its share of Heathrow take-off and landing slots will increase from 45 per cent to more than 53 per cent.
IAG and Lufthansa said they have reached “an agreement in principle” over bmi, subject to regulatory clearance.
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“It is envisaged that the purchase agreement will be signed in the coming weeks and the aim is for the transaction to be completed in the first quarter of 2012,” said the airlines in a joint statement.
Speaking about the deal, Willie Walsh, chief executive of IAG said: “This is a great story for IAG and also great for the UK economy and for consumers. We will expand our networks, particularly on long-haul which is so critically important to the UK economy. The deal will allow us to connect further to the emerging world economies.”
Virgin Atlantic, another suitor for bmi has expressed concern over the deal and said it was “anti-competitive.”
“British Airways’s hold over Heathrow is already too dominant and we are very concerned – as the competition authorities should also be – that BA’s purchase of bmi would be disastrous for consumer choice and competition. With the government limiting growth at London Heathrow, they cannot afford to turn a blind eye to the deterioration of competition that would result,” said the airline.