The merging of the big four into the big two will move a step closer on Monday with the European Commission looking set to rubberstamp the proposed merger of TUI and First Choice.


Should the EC give the merger the green light the move would still be subject to approval by First Choice shareholders although final approval should be a formality.


Earlier this week a resounding 99.9% of votes cast by MyTravel shareholders gave the green light to their company’s takeover by Thomas Cook, opening the way for the formation of Thomas Cook Group plc on June 19, barring approval by MyTravel directors.


A spokesperson for First Choice refused to comment on Monday’s decision other than saying the company would be issuing a statement to the stockmarket shortly afterwards. The statement will include a date for the vote by First Choice shareholders, who will receive their documentation later this month.


Subject to shareholder approval, the merged companies will begin trading as TUI Travel PLC in the third quarter of the year.


Monday’s decision follows a two-week delay while the EC waited for TUI and First Choice to address monopoly issues in the Republic of Ireland, to which the companies responded by issuing a joint statement saying they were considering a number of options including selling one of their Irish businesses.


The EC approved the proposed merger between Thomas Cook and MyTravel on May 4.