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EU opens probe into IAG’s plan to buy Air Europa

The European Commission said Wednesday it has opened an investigation into a plan by airline giant IAG — owner of Spanish airline Iberia and British Airways — to buy Spain’s Air Europa. The commission, the EU’s anti-trust regulator, expressed concerns the acquisition “may reduce competition in the market for passenger air transport services on several domestic, short-haul and long-haul routes” in, to, and from Spain. IAG, which also owns European carriers Aer Lingus and Vueling, announced in February 2023 its plan to acquire Air Europa for 500 million euros ($545 million) from the Spanish company Globalia, pending regulatory approval. It said the purchase would help it develop Madrid as a hub, building on Iberia’s operations there. After a preliminary look, the commission noted in a statement Wednesday that “IAG and Air Europa are strong and close competitors in the provision of passenger air transport services on certain routes within, to and from Spain”. The combined slot allocation resulting from the deal “could make it harder for other carriers to provide airline services” at Madrid airport, it said. The transaction could reduce competition between Madrid and North and South America, which both IAG and Air Europa already serve on direct routes, the commission said. The commission has until June 7 to complete the probe and make a decision. IAG is headquartered in Spain, with its main stock market listing on the London exchange. Iberia and British Airlines are part of the One World airline alliance.

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