The European Commission (EC) has given the green light for the proposed €1.4 billion takeover of Aer Lingus by IAG, subject to some conditions.
The Commission approved the deal with the caveat that five daily slot pairs at London Gatwick will be released to improve competition in the London to Dublin and Belfast routes.
Also, Aer Lingus must continue to connect long-haul passengers of competing airlines on several routes, including London Heathrow and Dublin. The EC had previously aired concerns about the competition concessions in the proposed deal.
Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe said that the Gatwick slots were not as crucial as Heathrow, the safety of which was paramount to the Government agreeing to sell its 25.1 per cent stake in the company.
Speaking to RTÉ's Morning Ireland, the Minister explained: “Heathrow is a key European hub airport that’s crucial for connectivity in the United Kingdom and beyond, and it has been the long-standing focus of government policy to protect these slots because they’re so scarce.”
The EC approval is the last major hurdle before the Aer Lingus EGM to vote in favour of the motion takes place on 16 July. Ryanair recently voted to accept the deal, two months after the Government gave the green light.
IAG, holding company of British Airways, Iberia and Vueling airlines, has offered €1.36 billion to takeover the airline, valuing shares at €2.50. The Government is set to make around €370 million from the sale.