The European Commission is to investigate the proposed deal between British Airways, American Airlines and Iberia following the trio’s application for anti-trust immunity in the US.
The airlines intend to combine flight schedules, agree fares and share revenue on routes between Europe, the US, Canada and Mexico. They applied for anti-trust immunity and notified the EC following a joint business agreement announced on August 14.
Agreement from Brussels was expected to be a formality. An EC spokesman said: “It is not a merger investigation and has no specific deadline.”
Rival carrier Virgin Atlantic welcomed the news. The airline’s chief executive Steve Ridgway said: “The EC has rightly begun an investigation. BA, American and Iberia would be way too dominant on key routes into and out of Heathrow.”