[FT.com] British Airways stands to strengthen its grip on Heathrow by gaining the right to buy a large chunk of take-off and landing slots at the airport, as part of proposals Ryanair is offering European regulators to seek approval for its contentious takeover of Aer Lingus.
The UK flag carrier, the largest airline at Heathrow, has struck a deal with Ryanair to purchase more than 85 per cent of Aer Lingus’s slots at the airport, which are currently used to provide services to Dublin, Shannon and Cork, said three people familiar with the agreement between Ryanair and British Airways.
Heathrow is running at near full capacity, so the opportunity to buy Aer Lingus’s slots at the airport could provide British Airways with an important means to eventually expand its long-haul services
Last month, the European Commission objected to Ryanair’s bid on competition grounds. The commission prohibited Ryanair’s first bid for Aer Lingus in 2007, and Brussels has never cleared a merr that it previously rejected.
British Airways is offering to take responsibility for many of Aer Lingus’s services out of Heathrow for at least three years.
With British Airways operating these services, Ryanair is privately saying that a combined Ryanair-Aer Lingus would not be dominant on those routes, said people familiar with the Irish budget carrier’s stance.
However, British Airways would run these services in place of Aer Lingus for between three and five years – after that it would have the right to buy the Irish flag carrier’s Heathrow slots and reallocate them to different destinations, such as New York.
Aer Lingus is the third-largest airline at Heathrow, and British Airways would be able to purchase up to 20 pairs of slots for daily flights that are held by the Irish flag carrier at the airport…….
By Andrew Parker in London and Alex Barker in Brussels
Dec 14th, 2012
- IAG Signs Non-Binding Accord With Ryanair for Heathrow – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- Heathrow confirms Terminal 2 airline occupancy: BAA Press Release (airportinformer.wordpress.com)
- Ryanair Offers New Concessions to EU Over Aer Lingus Bid – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)