Virgin Atlantic has called on the European Commission to reject a proposed tie-up between British Airways and American Airlines, claiming the pair would control 60% of the US market from Heathrow.

In papers submitted to the EC yesterday, Virgin suggests a grant of anti-trust immunity to BA and American would lead to anti-competitive behaviour and rising fares.

BA and American have applied for immunity in the US and Europe for an alliance including Iberia that would allow them to coordinate schedules and fares and pool revenue.

Virgin Atlantic chief executive Steve Ridgway urged rejection of “this third attempt by BA to stifle competition between Heathrow and the US”, claiming the carriers would dominate traffic on the most popular transatlantic routes.

A decision on the application is not expected until the middle of next year.