European watchdog probes BA tie-ups

The European Commission has launched an investigation into British Airways’ planned alliance with American Airlines and Iberia. The EU’s anti-trust authorities will investigate if the proposed collaboration will create an unfair dominance of Heathrow Airport.

Announced earlier this month, the airlines’ tie-up will seek to take advantage of the EU and US Open Skies agreement, which allows alliances to share routes across the two continents without having to merge companies.

If the collaboration goes ahead, the three airlines will serve a combined route network serving 443 destinations in 106 countries with 6,200 daily departures, and will be in direct competition with the existing Star Alliance, which includes Air France, Lufthansa and Delta Airlines.

Virgin Atlantic, which has been critical of the alliance of the three airlines, has welcomed the investigation by the European Commission. “The European Commission willalso be aware that the fragile state of the European economy is no excuse for BA/AA to be given the go ahead, as we all know that monopolies never work in the consumer’s favour,” as spokesman says.

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