British Airways parent IAG has agreed a deal with Ryanair to buy a chunk of Aer Lingus slots at Heathrow if the budget giant’s takeover bid for its Irish rival gets the go-ahead from Brussels.
IAG (International Airlines Group) confirmed it has signed “a non-binding [memorandum of understanding] with Ryanair which is subject to EC approval”.
The deal forms part of a package of remedies Ryanair has submitted to the European Commission in hope of securing control of Aer Lingus.
The agreement would give BA most of the Irish carrier’s slots at Heathrow.
The EC indicated last month that it would deny a go-ahead for the takeover, after referring the €694 million bid for detailed examination.
IAG has agreed BA would operate the Aer Lingus routes between the UK and Ireland for three to five years in the event of the EC changing its decision.
BA would then have the option of switching the slots to other routes. Aer Lingus is the third-largest operator at Heathrow, where BA holds more than half the slots following its takeover of BMI this year.
The EC rejected a previous Ryanair bid for Aer Lingus in 2007 on competition grounds.