The UK competition watchdog is to probe British Airways owner IAG’s planned €500 million takeover of Spanish carrier Air Europa.
The Competition and Markets Authority will examine whether the deal would harm competition in the UK.
The CMA said it has a January 19 deadline for its initial investigation decision.
IAG announced plans to buy Air Europa for €1 billion in 2019, but the price was cut in half this year after the impact of the Covid crisis on the airline industry.
The group has already offered concessions to address EU antitrust concerns over the deal, although details were not provided.
The European Commission opened an in-depth investigation in June, amid concerns that the deal would reduce competition on Spanish domestic routes and on international routes to and from Spain.
The transaction, which involves Iberia buying Air Europa on behalf of IAG, had sparked opposition from the Unite union over jobs and from rival carriers.
IAG said: “We will collaborate with the CMA. The London-Madrid route is highly competitive and is already part of the European Commission (investigation) process.”