Virgin complains to EC over British airline deal
Richard Branson on Friday warned that that the proposed takeover of British carrier bmi by International Airlines Group (IAG) could lead to fewer flights and fare hikes.
The warning came as Branson's Virgin Atlantic airline made an official complaint to the European Commission about the merger, which would see British Airways holding company AIG take control of bmi, currently a subsidiary of Lufthansa.
Virgin claims that three domestic routes would become BA monopolies and that competition would also be eradicated to some European destinations, allowing it to increase fares and reduce flights.
"This takeover would take British flying back to the dark ages," Virgin Atlantic president Branson said in a statement.
"For years pioneering airlines have fought to provide consumers with more choice and lower fares. This move will see British Airways unravel all of this progress made.
"BA has a track record of dominating routes, forcing less flying and higher prices," he added.
IAG responded by saying it was confident regulators would approve the deal.
"Selling it (bmi) to IAG offers the best solution for British consumers and UK plc, securing more jobs than if the airline was broken up and sold-off for its Heathrow slots," said an IAG statement.
"This deal is the only option for safeguarding services to the UK regions," it added.
The European Commission has up to 35 working days to announce whether it will approve the deal at Phase 1 or to decide whether it wishes to refer to Phase 2.
If the Commission takes the deal to Phase 2, it will have more than 90 working days to scrutinise the deal before announcing a final decision.
© 2012 AFP