On 14 July 2015, the European Commission approved the acquisition of Irish airline Aer Lingus by International Consolidated Airlines Group ("IAG"), subject to conditions. IAG is the holding company of British Airways, Iberia Líneas Aéreas de España and Vueling Airlines. Both companies provide air transport for passengers and cargo, and also provide ground-handling services and landside cargo handling services.
Following the notification of the acquisition on 27 May 2015, the Commission had concerns regarding the impact of the new entity on competition for several routes. Indeed, the new entity would have had high market shares on the Dublin–London, Belfast–London and Dublin–Chicago routes. There was a risk that it may have led to insufficient competition on those routes, which would have led to higher prices. Hence, commitments have been made to address these concerns:
- IAG has agreed to release five daily slot pairs at London Gatwick to facilitate the entry of competing airlines on those routes; and
- Aer Lingus will continue to carry connecting passengers for long-haul flights of competing airlines out of London Heathrow, London Gatwick, Manchester, Amsterdam, Shannon and Dublin.
The Commission considered that these commitments adequately addressed all its competition concerns and therefore agreed to approve the creation of the merger under these conditions.